How poetry can help your well-being - for those who wouldn’t usually turn to verse ...
With the launch of her fifth book, You’ll Never Walk Alone, Rachel Kelly shares her enthusiasm for poetry and explains why it can be life- changing.
She herself used poetry to heal herself from two serious depressive episodes. Now she wants to share the poems that helped her find her self-compassion and self-love, and explain to others how and why poetry can become part of their mental health toolkit - especially for anyone who wouldn’t usually turn to verse. Rachel thoughts on each poem act as a guide for anyone who might not imagine poetry can be a tool they can use. This is a book for anyone who is scared of poetry - but with Rachel at their side can discover a profound new source of psychological healing.
You'll Never Walk Alone is a collection of inspirational texts exploring human emotion, from sorrow through to delight. The poems are organised by writer and mental health advocate Rachel according to the season in which they 'belong': we all have seasons of our minds, be they wintery and dark, or more spring-like and hopeful. The texts are introduced by her, in a gentle guiding towards engaging with an emotional reality.
“Words can be a way to make sense of our feelings, a role poetry has played for me ever since I was asmall child engrossed in a large, illustrated anthology in the corner ofthe school library. You’ll Never Walk Alone is my attempt to convey something of this personal enthusiasm by sharing and explaining the poems I love and why I love them. My hope is that poems can become part of your emotional life too, even if hitherto you have never felt that poetry was your thing.", says Rachel.
Words can be a way to release our feelings. Poetry helps connect us to our emotions and to explore our vulnerability. Poetry can be a new tool for wellbeing. And one that means you'll never walk alone.
Rachel Kelly is a keynote speaker, bestselling writer and mental health campaigner. She shares her experience of depression and evidence-based strategies that have helped her recover, and has long been an advocate for the therapeutic power of poetry. She runs Healing Words poetry workshops for mental health charities, at festivals and in prisons, and has been a judge for the Koestler Poetry Prize and the RethinkMental Illness Poetry Awards. Her passion for poetry led to her becoming the co-founder of the iF poetry app and co-editor of iF: A Treasury of Poetry for Almost Every Possibility (Canongate, 2012).
Her memoir Black Rainbow: How words healed me -my journey through depression describes how poetry was an integral part of her recovery. Her critically acclaimed books include The Happy Kitchen, Walking on Sunshine and Singing in the Rain and have been published in over 10 countries.
Rachel has spoken all over the world from Delhi to Sydney, America and across the UK. She is also a well-known media commentator and former Times journalist as well as an official ambassador for mental health charities Rethink Mental Illness, SANE, The Counselling Foundation and Head Talks.
Rachel lives in London with her husband, Sebastian, and their children.
Self Love: Rather than romantic love, at a time of year that's triggering for so many, the book of poems provides a welcome respite in the daily grind. Through poems such as ‘Wild Geese’ by Mary Oliver; ‘Love after Love’ by Derek Walcott; ‘Desiderata’ by Max Ehrmann - we get a reminder to love ourselves, to provide ourselves with self-acceptance, and to read all about our relationship with ourselves, which is after all our main relationship for all of us.
Kindness: Something so simple can have such an impact, Rachel stresses the importance of little acts of kindness, towards yourself and others during a time of uncertainty.
Self-empowerment: Boosting one's sense of self-empowerment is a third leg on the stool of recovery, and one that can be neglected in the mental health world where it is easy to become dependent on others, whether psychiatrist or therapist. "Feeling passive, and powerless to do anything about my condition, was part of being depressed. The more I discovered my own ability to take action, the better I felt".
Poetry through different eyes: The book is both for poetry aficionados, and those who wouldn’t normally turn to poetry, as for the latter it opens their eyes to poetry in a new way. Previously thinking that poetry is not for them, reading this book they have come to the realisation that it can be an unexpected part of their mental health toolkit. After all, the book has been put together by a poetry enthusiast who shares that enthusiasm with others who may be turning to poetry for the first time.
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