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A Prescription for Poetry: How Writing Keeps Us Well

For the mornings when to-do lists won’t get done without some doodles, without some word play and some play words, without some play worlds and some world play: I will write me a poem

For the moments when the world stops moving on its axis, when it stops for a moment, for just one precious moment when the sun glints on the water or the clouds drift past the mountains or the rains burst on the island and my feet sink home: I will write me a poem

Rain Clouds Over Arran

For the days when tidal waves of grief come crashing through, a deluge of tears that arrive unannounced, in the midst of an everyday act like the washing of dishes or peeling of potatoes, leaving me tear-stained, heart-drained: I will write me a poem

For the chapters of my life that go in spirals and zig-zags, that look sad and incomplete compared to patterns of growth and understanding, against lines of progress and success, that want to hide away in undergrowth, in shady places, quiet spots: I will write me a poem

For the years when the news can seem to grind us down, when the earth is polluted, exploited, abandoned, when cruelty abounds and hope calls out lost, I will watch out each day for one simple act of kindness, for one kind act of simpleness, enough for one poem.

For the minutes when I’m walking, find a flower, spot a raindrop, when I’m tempted just to bend down, try and focus try and notice, as I learn to pay attention, to find words to sing in wonder: I will write me a poem

For the times when the world seems to make no sense, when only non-sense seems to hold some sense, I learn to let my words play upside down and inside out, to talk in rhymes, to sing in riddles, to find the peace of sense in nonsense, and I will write me a poem

For the days when the words won’t come for what happens when we’re writing, in those years and those moments,  in those times when we poem-write, when we choose to let our words fall out, when we dare to let our hearts fall out, when we breathe enough to let our souls sing out: I will write me a poem.


This is my contribution to the group writing project Can Writing Keep Us Well?

I didn’t expect it to come out in poem form… but then that’s poems for you ;-)

The piece refers back to some of my own poems published here and elsewhere - also a few pieces I’ve shared before about the benefits of writing poetry.

Here are two - both of which refer to the Poet’s Prescription by Diana Hendry, which is a large part of the inspiration for this piece… and the daily act of taking poetry :-)

The Art of Paying Attention

April Showers: Eyes Washed in Wonder (at Joyful Jubilant Learning)


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  1. Tweets that mention A Prescription for Poetry: How Writing Keeps Us Well | Confident Writing -- says:

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Todd Rutherford. Todd Rutherford said: RT @joannayoung A Prescription for Poetry: How Writing Keeps Us Well [...]

  2. MAryse says:

    Lovely post. Poetry will do the trick every single time.
    I found you on Twitter and just started following you. :)

  3. John Smith says:

    A very delightful post

  4. Jean at The Delightful Repast says:

    I wish I were a poet like you! My poetry is in my pastry.

  5. Karen Swim
    Twitter: karenswim

    Joanna, beautiful poem and breathtaking photos! I love watching your creativity take flight soaring ever higher!

  6. Diana says:

    That was beautiful!

  7. [...] words the other day, (checking out poet Diana Hendry’s site on the back of Monday’s post on the poetry prescription). The psychologist D.W. Winnacott once wrote that in most writers there is a conflict between two [...]

  8. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    Maryse hello, and glad you found me

    John thank you

    Jean whereas I wish I could make pastry!

    Karen thank you, and for all your encouragement to soar

    Diana thanks, it came with heart

  9. [...] A Prescription for Poetry: How Writing Keeps Us Well from me, @ Confident Writing Sometimes it’s about getting out of your head and connected back to the outside world.  I like to walk looking for images or colours that jump out at me, or listen for sounds or fragments of conversation that seem to bring the world to life.  Taking a bit of time to capture these moments can help you to feel more grounded and mindful. [...]

  10. [...] poems is what mattered?  That the act of poem writing can help us to change state, that there are some days when reason gets us down and poems offer a different kind of truth-telling, so… wouldn’t that mean your poems were allowed?  Might [...]