Greetings lovely one,
I have a confession to make to you and this may sound strange coming from someone who is literally working on a degree in theopoetics and writing … ready for it? I’m in a complicated relationship with poetry. Okay, it’s probably not as shocking as if I shared that I actually didn’t care much for poetry at all. In fact, I don’t even consider myself a word nerd.
Yet, starting next month, I’ll be taking my first semester-long poetry workshop and doing more of the actual writing component of my seminary studies after a year of mostly spiritual formation and theory. The reason I’m sharing this is because I’ve been thinking about hope and how my knotty relationship with writing helps me process the ways it manifests for me.
I’ve been dancing a sort of word tango since I was a little girl. I wrote my first short story around nine years of age (give or take) and my first poem when I was 12. The poem I wrote for my then-best friend who had a crush on a guy in our class. She liked it, even though the conclusion spoke of unrequited love. After that, I realized how natural it felt to cry with my pen. I wrote poetry like a hail storm, a flurry of ideas came rushing onto paper and I had no choice but to let words flow wherever they wanted to go. I didn’t care about structure, form, whether it was proper, who would read it, love it, or hate it. I wrote because I had stories to tell, and feelings in my heart that I didn’t really know how to connect with my head … but nevertheless needed release in a safe space only my imagination could inhibit.
Years later – after I had long given up writing poetry and even journaling – and with great trepidation, I invited myself into a “love on you with some truth you need to hear about yo’self even though you ain’t ready for it yet” sisterhood session with older, wiser friends. Not long after when my life as I knew it started to fall apart, I picked up my pen again and began to write about loss as I slowly moved through a multi-event grieving process (when it rains it pours). My poetry seems to always form out of the darkest moments of my life when I often wondered what was the point.
I’d never considered myself a lover of words because my writing was essentially the blues without a B.B. King accompaniment. But if you asked me my favorite hobby then, I’d respond the same now: reading. Reading words that resonated with something I wasn’t fully conscious of, but somehow knew to be true. I clung to words. I ate them with breakfast, brought them with me as I rode emotional rollercoasters, kept them as companions when nobody else wanted to play with the geeky, awkward, Black girl who admittedly would rather read The Baby-Sitters Club than go to a party. I wrote to clear away the cobwebs of loneliness and feeling out of place in the world. I wrote because it felt like I needed to.
When I finally went to therapy and my therapist inquired about what helped me maintain and kept me going, my first response was being scared of the angry, punishing God I was taught about; but when I really sat with the question, the arts came to mind. Writing especially was an intuitive survival tool I was equipped with when I was too poor for, and uninformed about, other mental health and spiritual care resources. Writing became the “beneath the surface” tenacity that kept me holding on when holding on didn’t make sense.
Likewise, hope reveals itself in the least likely places. It breathes life into situations that feel dead and buried like dry bones. It comes alive and makes itself known from some of the most heart-wrenching times in our lives. Hope wants to survive. No, it’s determined to survive. Coupled with faith, it also believes that somehow, someway there’s more to life than just survival. It teases us with possibilities where we don’t know what form or structure it will take, or whether or not love or hate will dominate, but hope carries us forward, expecting the unexpected anyway.
Consider this a drift draft
I have a complicated relationship with poetry
I’ve denied our affair for so long
out of fear of the unknown
I hid my feelings so deeply
I forgot she was by my side
and without meaning to
I chased her shadow all my life
straight to the edges
the boundaries of a mirrored truth
where she was left abandoned
refused to be ignored
each page of my inhibitions
makes their descent onto the floor
where the wind carries words forward
provoking art on a new plane
Peace, Love, and Wellness,
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Tales from the blog keepers
July is Minority Mental Health month. Although the gap between need and therapists of color is still quite wide, more and more resources are popping up to make the process of finding mental health help accessible.
One in four people in the world will be affected by mental health disorders at some point in their lives. Despite this research, a big hurdle to improving mental health care and access to treatment is the way we look at mental illness.
Faith and community leaders can help educate individuals and families about mental health, increasing awareness of mental health issues and making it easier for people to seek help. Community connectedness and support, like that found in faith-based and other neighborhood organizations, are also important to the long-term recovery of people living with mental illnesses.
Muse of the month
Blerd’s the word
I was super excited when I read that Issa Rae, (whose Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl series from her YouTube days was such a game-changer for me and likely so many other Blerds) will be voicing Spider Woman for the upcoming sequel to “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.” I remember when I took my nephew, (who happens to be Afro-Latino) to the Marvel exhibit at the Franklin Institute and how good it felt to witness him as he happily posed in front of the Miles Morales projection saying, “Hey, he’s like me!” Representation matters.
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