When we read a poem or literature, we are reminded that what we are feeling has been felt by many humans and we are not alone in it.
Literature makes you realize that it’s not a ‘you’ problem, it’s just part of human existence.
‘The best moments in reading are when you come across something – a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things – which you have thought special and particular to you. Now here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, some even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out and taken yours.’– Alan Bennett, The History Boys
William Sieghart is wonderfully reassuring with his ‘poem prescriptions’, providing beautiful insight, perspective, kindness and comfort. The short analysis he provides for each emotional condition and prescribed poem all maintain a feeling of tenderness and calm, and are especially graceful and heartfelt sentiments. Both of the books feel like a hug and touch the tender, sacred places within you.
Knowing that these books are compilations of his most requested ‘poem prescriptions’ for the most common emotional states and conditions that people need assistance with, knowing that they have been repeatedly asked for, is incredibly reassuring to know that we are not the only ones experiencing it.
Poems can be a great gateway into opening up and getting comfortable with what you are feeling, especially if you are feeling stuck with understanding it, processing it or moving through the emotion.
It can give us words to what we are feeling, especially helpful if we have never experienced it before. The more we expand our vocabulary and understanding of the range of emotions, the easier it is to move through them.
It takes each emotion and doesn’t label it bad or unworthy, it calls it just that – an emotion. Something to feel without labeling it as good or bad or wanted or unwanted. Just like every colour in the rainbow, equal in value and beauty, every emotion is needed for a balance and full experience of life. Everything you feel is normal and ok, sometimes we just need more assistance to work through it. Emotions are something to feel and pass through, leaning into it and learning the message it brings us.
“You want to lash out at the parts of your self that seem to hold you back. At moments like that, it’s important to be able to sit down and speak gently within yourself, as if saying a prayer or reading a poem. Whichever part of you is unhappy, reassure it: accept your many selves, and allow them to speak both to you and to each other.”― William Sieghart, The Poetry Pharmacy Returns: More Prescriptions for Courage, Healing and Hope
I read the two books from start to finish, not wanting to accidentally miss a poem or analysis I have not read. However, these books are made to, and perfect for, dipping in and out of depending on what you are currently going through by looking up the condition or emotions you are feeling.
I highly recommend both books; however in my circumstances I found that I preferred The Poetry Pharmacy Returns as it was focussed more on prescriptions for courage, healing and hope. If you are a poetry beginner, or a literary lover, I am certain that you will find joy and comfort within these pages. Leave me a comment and tell me your favourite poem or poet!
Take heart, I’ll keep the light on.
Update: Calm meditation app now has a series on The Poetry Pharmacy narrated by William Sieghart!
We have all been in that place where something awful happens to someone and we are petrified of saying the wrong thing or not sure how to help. This is where the book ‘There Is No Good Card For This: What to Say and Do When Life is Scary, Awful and Unfair to People You Love’ by Emily McDowell and Kelsey Crowe comes in to save us!
Let me introduce you to the beautiful human that is Charlie Mackesy and his incredibly empathetic book, The Boy, The Mole, The Fox & The Horse. If there was ever a time when we needed Charlie Mackesy’s drawings, it would be over the last year.
Matt Haig is a brilliant writer and human being who is constantly investigating and questioning the effect of modern life on our mental health. He is a huge advocate for mental health wellness, and has shared his experiences through his multiple fiction works and his non-fiction books.