Poetry for a change

While I was in London last week to visit the London Book Fair, I decided to attend the meeting Poetry for a Change which was held at the Poets’ Corner, introduced and moderated by Ali Richardson.

It was an hour of sheer delight in which I discovered a new way to use poetry for the wellbeing of people who are neither experts nor able to write and appreciate poetry.

A quote by Hafiz of Shiraz summarizes the main message of the meeting held by William Sieghart (founder of the National Poetry Day) and Jane Davis (creator of The Reader)

I wish I could show you, when you are lonely or in darkness, the Astonishing Light of your own Being!

How can it be done? I already knew that poetry can enlighten both our souls and lives, but I found out that there are some shared reading groups which can help the participants, after listening to poems read aloud, together with literature properly chosen, to express their deepest feelings, either joyful or sad. In addition, all the members of the group can share their own feelings with others so to be understood and cheered up, if necessary. In any case feel better, gradually recovered and innerly healed. Shared reading has been proven to promote better health and well-being, together with increasing social inclusion.

Of course, the poems must be chosen carefully and, for this purpose, it can be used the book The Poetry Pharmacy by William Sieghart.

I am considering of organizing such a group where I live and I will propose that experience at the library committee which I am a member of.

I also wondered which was the poem that I consider powerfully healing for me and I had no doubt in choosing it:

This lonely hill was always dear to me,

and this hedgerow, which cuts off the view

of so much of the last horizon.

But sitting here and gazing, I can see

beyond, in my mind’s eye, unending spaces,

and superhuman silences, and depthless calm,

till what I feel

is almost fear. And when I hear

the wind stir in these branches, I begin

comparing that endless stillness with this noise:

and the eternal comes to mind,

and the dead seasons, and the present

living one, and how it sounds.

So my mind sinks in this immensity:

and foundering is sweet in such a sea.

[L’infinito by Giacomo Leopardi]

(translated by Jonathan Galassi)