Being a poet isn’t seen as a glamorous title – more of a struggle-to-pay-the-bills, get-a-real-job kind of title. In the face of global crises, however, it is very obvious that poetry has been resurfacing as an important part of people’s lives. For myself, I’ve realized that poetry has four main functions that I know are part of the reason why it is becoming more popular again in a society that often looks down upon the literary world.
Poetry as a Mental Outlet
I know that being in the middle of a global pandemic has caused mental health to take a toll, but I also know that writing is a therapeutic form that has helped many people. I’ve experienced its help firsthand through poetry and I’ve seen its reach through my personal life and the writing community on Instagram.
Poetry is often defined as a way to express emotions and feelings in a manner with which typical prose cannot compete. I say that I write poetry to “explain the unexplainable” because other ways of expressing myself do not do my emotions justice. For people struggling with anxiety, stress, or any number of mental health issues, poetry is a way of expressing their struggles and feelings in a personal way. It is a mental outlet for every thought that consumes us every day and it frees us from those thoughts as we put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard.
Poetry as Activism
Poetry has long been used as a form of protest, activism, and speaking up for the voiceless, and the present day is no different. With the Black Lives Matter movement, fights for gender equality, and other social, political, and racial justice causes, poetry is needed now more than ever to spread awareness and ideas of the society that we want to live in.
With the imagery-heavy language that poetry typically employs, people can truly try to put themselves in the shoes of the marginalized, the minorities, and the underprivileged to understand why change needs to happen and why it needs to happen now. Spoken word pieces are especially powerful in my opinion, as the raw emotion and closeness to the subject that are prevalent in verbal poetry make the message even more potent.
Poetry as Empowerment
I believe very strongly that poetry is a powerful form of empowerment for women and girls everywhere. I personally found my own voice, strength, and confidence through my poetry and I want to encourage others to do the same. It is such a unique form that allows you to speak your mind, your beliefs, your emotions, and your heart, while discovering exactly what those hold for yourself. Poetry can be anything that you want it to be and its open-endedness allows women to find their voice in a world that typically silences it.
Poetry as Community
Through Instagram, I have found a community of like-minded poets and writers who share the same ideas, hopes, and dreams as me. It’s amazing how writing can bring people together in a way that other forms of art cannot. People may not be able to relate to a painting or sculpture, but reading a piece of poetry will evoke some sort of image that draws people together. It is a way to share emotions, fears, hopes, loves, and passions that are otherwise unexplainable. It is a way to find your people – the ones who write about the same topics as you, who have the same beliefs (moral, political, or religious), who want the same outcomes in life as you.
I am so grateful for my little corner of the Instagram poetry community and I know that so many others feel the same way about their own experiences with the platform. There’s something satisfying about having a group to hold you accountable, to bounce ideas off of, to get inspired from, to share your pride and joy with – and I’m not even sure poetry can do enough to explain the gratitude and love that I feel for my supporters and friends that I have met.