Sometimes we need prose, we know, has been laboured for, by poet, prophet or prequel; void of chiche, stereotype or fleeting trend. Quotes and phrases that cry out to be underlined, highlighted, circled or copied down, whether in a social media post or within the pages of a personal journal.
Throughout my life, I have used words as a floatation device, a breathing apparatus, a flashlight, an umbrella, a ladder, a walking stick, a scalpel, and a get out of jail free card. On occasion when I wake in the early ‘am’ hours, my first instinct is to reach for one of the many books that live on my bedside table. I browse the pages looking to still my swirling mind; to find a delicious combination of letters and symbols that will send me back to sleep and season my dreams.
I didn’t know it, but these early morning reading sessions had a name. The word ‘bibliotherapy’ comes from the ancient greek words for ‘book’ (biblion) and ‘healing’ (therapeia). It means ‘to use reading as a way to assist the healing process.’ Although I had never heard of the term, reading worked; the right words worked on me.
Recently I discovered ‘The power of poetry, with Helena Bonham Carter and Jason Isaacs’ on YouTube. In this video, the work of many poets is read aloud from William Sieghart’s book ‘The Poetry Pharmacy’ as a way of demonstrating how poetry can provide a remedy for a number of emotional conditions. From purposeless to assisting aging parents; from loneliness to loss of zest for life, ‘The Poetry Pharmacy’ provides ‘tried and true prescriptions for the heart, soul and mind’.
After experiencing first hand the power of poetry to help the healing process, I became a collector of poems and poetry books. The following is a list of some of the books that I have collected, and how they help.
Nocturnal – by Wilder. For those recovering from heartbreak and rediscovering self.
To Be Remembered – by R.Clift. For those suffering loss, learning to let go and live with memories of what could have been.
Where hope comes from – by Nikita Gill. For those needing light to navigate our time and hope in seasons of loneliness.
Letters to a young poet – by Rainer Maria Rilke. For those needing creative impulse and surge of passion and courage.
Devotions – by Mary Oliver. For those in need of wonder, beauty and invigoration.
Reflecting on such curative works, spark the memory of a mild spring day in 2016,
‘I sat across from an Italian emissary. This is what he told me. Write. Let your tears become the waters that refresh others.’
And so I did. I do. And so can you too, do what you do, for the flourishing of a world so precious and the healing of hearts, including your own.