Poetry Chose Me

{Formerly written for my column, Conqueror, on Ayaskala.


Dear Loves,


I hope you are all well and you’re mentally striving towards positivity. I made a vow to help you all through this wilderness one column at a time and I intend to keep that promise. Conquering mental health struggles is actually a daily challenge, but one simple task can accomplish this goal. In my first letter, I mentioned that listening to your favorite music can help boost your mental health, and another one of my favorite ways is to write poetry. You don’t have to be a poet to do that—write what you feel and see where it takes you.


With that said, I will confess I never saw myself as a poet, the poetry life chose me. I choose to embrace this life because poetry brings me so much joy even in the midst of my own personal darkness. No matter how gloomy the day, writing a poem or five helps me dig deep into why I am feeling the way I am. I’ll be honest, there isn’t always a solution or an answer at the end of an emotional writing session, but there is hope. I have written so many poems while either crying or feeling like I am about to cry and those are some of my best poems because they show my rawest emotions.



While I am writing to you, the world is in the middle of a pandemic due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Everyone is scared and anxiety is at an all-time high. People are struggling to think positively. Times are tough. The world is slowly reopening after a worldwide lockdown. I’ll be honest, my mind takes turns that aren’t good for my anxiety. Then, I remember to look around and count my blessings. I am blessed beyond measure and sometimes I tend to forget that especially when my thoughts try to destroy me.


During the last few months, I haven’t let the world’s current stare stop me from feeling blessed. Unlike some workers in our country, I have been able to continue going to work while also following my writing dreams (publishing poems and my debut novel, being my most notable blessings during the worldwide pandemic). Despite the chaos, I have decided to spread positivity through poetry, if only to help others while sorting through my own maze of confusion. Lots and lots of raw and deep poems fill my social media accounts. They aren’t always powerful and well-written, but they are the thoughts in my head. The ones I can’t wait to get out. Thoughts about old flames and past friendships that haunt me. By sharing them with others, I have realized my experiences and how I react to them could help someone else. I strive to help others with my poems and that is what my goal is for this column. My hope is that we all realize that we can be conquerors even when we still have tough days here and there.


Even when you finally feel like a conqueror, yes those bad days will still come. But, here’s the good news, they will start to be fewer and further in-between. And that my friends, is a win in my book. So, be patient with your progress and celebrate the small victories. It can be as simple as getting out of bed, and that is even a success especially when everything in you just wants to sleep the day away. We’ve all been there. You aren’t alone, but I promise getting up will make you feel much better.


Even just grabbing your phone, turning some music on, opening a new note, and writing your feelings down can make a huge difference. Because music and writing go together like Forrest Gump and Jenny, “like peas and carrots.” I challenge you to write at least one poem about the thoughts looming in your head—see what the power of poetry can do for your mood.


Before you start, remember to have fun and experiment with wording, punctuation, format, and style. Your poem is what you make it whether you write free verse or a deep emotional sonnet, they can reflect your rawest emotions. The beauty of poetry is there are 50 styles to choose from, although most people only know the seven most popular ones which include haiku, free verse, sonnets, acrostic, cinquain, epic, and ballad poems. While looking into Free Verse, for a blog post, I learned a great deal about the term.


While looking into which style my poetry falls under, I went into research mode. Here’s what I found: free verse poems are the least defined of all the styles. There is deliberately no set meter, rhyme scheme, or any particular structure. Everything in the way the poem is written and formatted is completely up to the poet. In my case it is perfect because I don’t always understand meter, rhyming isn’t easy for me, and I don’t follow the normal rules such as syllables per line. With this style, I have so much creative freedom with my words and emotions.


The best part is I can always experiment with more styles or wording as I go, so do that with yours. I have linked the styles above which includes their meanings and examples. Be creative, vulnerable, and yourself. The possibilities are endless. I encourage you to share your poems with the world if you feel comfortable. Even sharing just a little bit of positivity during these bleak times goes a long way. I would love to see what you come up with after you read my column. If you choose to share on social media, feel free to tag my Instagram (emnicolecraig_author) so I can share in the positivity poetry creates.


To get the ball rolling, I’ll start by showing you what I have put down this week.



“Let Me Out”



i toss and turn

trying to shake

the thoughts loose

they won’t budge

No, they are stuck to me

a part of me

they call my brain, home

theirs to overtake

worming their way in and out

of every pathway

leaving scars

as they pass through

marking me over and over again

their doll

nothing more than

a head to play in.


rolling around

like balls on a court

left and right

up and down

pestering me like needles

i can’t see straight

they have sent me running wild

taking my body in different directions

think that no that

what am i supposed to think?

these thoughts overtake me.



leave me

tossing and turning

til the sunrise

no rest for the cruel

am i wicked

or just fear-stricken?


sick with dread

of a new day coming

begging the sun to stay away

let me sleep

let me sleep

i can’t bear to move.


thoughts—evil ones

beg to be heard

to be known

poking at my eyelids

let me out, let me out.


i spill them on the page

like a dam finally breaking

all here

all out

apart from me,

no longer one with me,

i can dream

again

i can breathe again.



At times, when I read my poems I wonder how something like that could come from my mind. You may be wondering the same thing about your poem. The words on the page or screen, they taunt you. They tell you all the things that scare you. But the good news is you are on the right track. Facing your evil thoughts is the first step to conquering a part of your mental health struggles. So, keep at it. In my experience, writing down your thoughts and releasing them helps you better understand them. At the very least, it could help you know where you want or need to grow in your life and thought process. As a last note, I would like to invite you to not let your overwhelming thoughts be the end of you, embrace them and move forward one step at a time. Show your mental health who’s boss and conquer one problem at a time.


Sincerely,


Em


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