Poetry’s Role in Raising Awareness about Mental Health

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Aristotle (384 BCE-322 BCE) was a philosopher and polymath from Greece. He began our journey into ‘Poetics’, the science of poetry, as what we know today. Poetics and the science of poetry has been the central document in the study of aesthetics and literature for centuries, especially during the Renaissance; and in today’s scholarly circles it is still seen as a profound, important act of art. When we go back centuries and study the anatomy of poetry and its value to human society, our insight into the human imagination is better understood. Poetry’s potential into imitation of nature of all kinds becomes easy to see yet inexplicable for its style. Aristotle and Plato’s early work in Greece was important in defining poetry and art as useful and good not just for society but for an innate sense of our inner being. 

When we read poetry, of any kind, we walk our minds into a field, or a meadow, or uphill a mountain or into a river or a softly running stream or into an imaginary home or a bedroom or into the darkness of the night without being told to but by the simple act of letting our minds go around, crawling into an imagination of its own kind, seeking more or less- to a reader poetry dictates without being asked to.

To imagine writing didn’t exist thousands of years ago, we relied on our imagination to communicate through symbols and signs and poignant pieces of art – all important forms of poetics- to build this world we live in today, we used our imagination to give it function and form. Our mind and body that can be rendered futile and sedentary suddenly had an important task to do because our imagination had charged us forward and our body had the stamina to perform. We created societies and structures and homes and hospitals and roads and cities and modes of transport and human relations and jobs and a civic sense and governments simply by the use of an excellent collective imagination put to good test and utility for a greater cause.

To imagine art and poetry to be that lubricant to growth. When we leave all rights and wrongs out of our mind and let our imagination conjure up civility and the discivil into poetic nature and form; that’s cryptic enough to be only ours but bold enough to be theirs, it turns to collective health, wealth and voice. 

Our mental health can be harmed in a million little and big ways everyday- but, our human grit and our imagination helps us tide forward, poetry becomes a boat through such times.

Not the act of any poetry, but the ‘imagination and tenderness of the curated words of poetry’ – helps us find pugmarks in muck to carry on. A poet can find a guiding light at crossroads or a halt- it helps clean the dark waters and opens our minds to more ways to carve out life, when words or actions might be too harsh or tempestuous or ungracious or redundant or monotonous or may seem predatory or poor – writing or reading poetry until you find what you’re looking for can help find a stepping, a flow to a confused state and peace to a tumultuous mind.

Poetry has now for centuries been artistically used to communicate oneness with everyone around – all emotions are shared- through love and loss and shame and sorrow and anger and desires and dreams and doubts and hopes and what we want should be right about the world and our dreamed of utopias, poetry brings it all to life. When words and imagination can be strong but silent weapons, poetry comes to mind. 

Some of history’s most loved political voices, activists, freedom fighters, lovers, musicians, mavericks, thinkers, artists, scientists and marriages have been bound by their own form of poetry- it becomes a thread to bind when the world is uneven. A poetic imagination is a way to stitch words into the everyday, it’s a way to gently move forward without skidding – poetry becomes an important tool of choice for grace and kind.

There’s no one way to begin our journey into poetry, I believe, if the call of poetry comes, pick up the pen and write, browse through the archives and read, it’ll eventually guide us with a shining light of its own kind when the time is right- but we have to write or read or watch until poetry tells us to, for us to finally find a home in the crowding, blinding lights. 

Shared by: Devangana Mishra,

                  CEO and Founder, Brain Bristle & Author of Desierto Florido.


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