Like any form of writing, poetry is a means of articulating our experiences, but unlike other genres of writing, poetry distills experiences into the essentials, allowing us to focus on what’s most critical to us.
According to John Fox—author of Poetic Medicine: The Healing Art of Poem-Making (1997)—the act of creating poetry can loosen subconscious resistance, provide insight into a hardship or an illness, allow us to share our suffering with an imagined audience, making it an act of release.
According to Rafael Campo, award-winning poet, poetry editor for JAMA, and director of writing and literature programs for the Arts and Humanities Initiative at Harvard Medical School
When one’s body betrays the person that’s living with illness, it can feel tremendously isolating and alienating until we are able to name what’s going on inside of us and take a kind of control over whatever has gone awry. That is extremely empowering and can really combat some of the fear and isolation and loneliness that so often accompanies the experience of illness.
~from Wired, August 3, 2020
The Benefits of Poetic Therapy
In a 2017 study published in Arts and Health, people with mental health conditions who practiced reflective/poetic writing gained perspective, enhanced their understanding of the self and others, and promoted health and self-healing.
In a 2019 study published in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, participants who were suffering from trauma showed increased resilience and decreased stress and depressive symptoms after six weeks of intensive outpatient poetic and expressive writing.
The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) recently published the results of a controlled trial that found that among patients with chronic and debilitating medical conditions such as asthma and rheumatoid arthritis, those who wrote creatively about their illness…reported fewer symptoms and exhibited less disability…than [medical] care alone.