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Posts Tagged ‘poetry and healing’

Yesterday, in my advanced poetry workshop at Colorado Christian University, three of my students gave a presentation on poetry and healing. Among other things, they considered the relationship poetry can have to emotional and physical healing. To me, this is one of the most important considerations in life.

Did you know, for example, that mummies in Egypt have been discovered with scraps of Sappho’s poetry in the wrappings?

What kind of permission does Psalm 88 give to faithful believers to honestly express their sorrows  when the last line does not turn toward trust or praise but simply says “the darkness is my only companion”?

Are you interested in programs that combine poetry and medicine, wherein doctors actually prescribe literature as something that could bring healing to the soul and therefore to the body? (What would it be like if there was a library in every hospital?)

One of the presenters paid particular attention to the braided relationship between love, truth, and reconciliation. Truth is so important to any real healing, but truth expressed without love can brutalize another human being. She read poems that have emerged from the Holocaust, South African apartheid, and the genocide in Rwanda to illustrate her deeper meaning.

One poet fully engaged with this problem today is Brian Turner. The title poem from his collection Here, Bullet is a good example of being truthful about trauma. Here it is:

Here, Bullet

If a body is what you want,
then here is bone and gristle and flesh.
Here is the clavicle-snapped wish,
the aorta’s opened valves, the leap
thought makes at the synaptic gap.
Here is the adrenaline rush you crave,
that inexorable flight, that insane puncture
into heat and blood. And I dare you to finish
what you’ve started. Because here, Bullet,
here is where I complete the word you bring
hissing through the air, here is where I moan
the barrel’s cold esophagus, triggering
my tongue’s explosives for the rifling I have
inside of me, each twist of the round
spun deeper, because here, Bullet,
here is where the world ends, every time.

Brian Turner
Here, Bullet (Alice James Books, 2005)

 something worth thinking about

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