Staff blog: Using poetry...


by Ed Peston, Communications Assistant at Inclusion Barnet

In a recent blog, I wrote about how I found that inspirational quotes could help to improve my mental health, by providing positive truths which have helped others too. Following on from this, I decided to see whether other forms of the written word could have a similar effect. I thought that poetry might be an interesting case, as poems are generally brief, evocative and the poet takes great care in the use of language.

Here is what I found.

In the past, I have found poetry quite difficult to interpret, but for this exercise I chose an anthology called the Poetry Pharmacy by William Sieghart which has the advantage of each poem being selected as potentially aiding an aspect of mental health or illuminating the human condition, with commentaries on each item from the editor to give you their perspective on it. The categories include anxiety, depression, feelings of unattractiveness, lost love and many other areas.

I found the categorisation and personal insights from the editor helped me engage with the poems.  The poems are generally quite brief, which meant that even if I had a low mood I was able to read them.  But what struck me the most was the amount of wisdom in them.  Furthermore, I was able to see new things in them as I read and re-read them.  The poems had a calming effect, and I took the book with me on a recent appointment for a medical procedure and it helped me greatly when I was waiting to be seen.

Since then, I return to the book if I need a boost, or reassurance that everything will be all right. It is like having a friend with me when I am otherwise alone.

Go to the Poetry Pharmacy website

Best wishes,



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