Poetry vs Trauma Class

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In August, I took the Poetry vs Trauma class offered by The Writer’s Center. It was taught by Claudia Gary, who is an accomplished poet and Pushcart Prize nominee.

This class consisted of two virtual meetings over Zoom, where we discussed how poetry (and writing, in general) can help heal trauma. Then, we put what we learned to work in crafting some new poems.

So why take this class? Well, in the big scheme of things, I’m trying to put more time and money into improving my writing skills. And in the bigger scheme of things, I use writing to work through difficult periods of my life and would like to turn some of that work into something beautiful.

I found the classes overall useful. I walked away with a couple new skills and had the opportunity to hear feedback from some poetry I’d been working on–always valuable!

Gary is a poet who emphasizes meter and sound and some more traditional forms of poetry. Although that’s not my strong suit, I leaned in and noodled out a triolet poem. It ended up being a fun experiment, where the poem became a kind of puzzle to put together. I tend to think of rhyming poetry as being somehow childish, or lending itself to less serious topics, but it’s really not the case.

Another takeaway: While writing can be a therapeutic tool, if you want to go beyond self-healing, you must consider your audience. This means explaining parts of a poem that may make sense to you but are vague to your audience. It may mean picking a form that carries meaning behind it: an elegy vs a limerick vs blank verse. It means you’ll need to get feedback on your poem; basically, it means that your poem does service beyond yourself

And lastly: Jot down poetic moments and observations. You can use these as memory touchstones to tap into and develop into full poems later. This is something I’ve done historically but didn’t have the words to describe what I was doing. This is the “Bits and Pieces” folder in my Scrivener poetry file. I also use Keep to throw down this kind of thing. These are the quick thoughts that may not make sense on their own, but which hold a universe (or rather, a poem) for you when you come back to them.


Photo by Vlad Kutepov on Unsplash

2 Replies to “Poetry vs Trauma Class”

  1. Roses are red
    Violets are blue
    I couldn’t write a poem that rhymes
    If I had to

    Heeee heee. Your writing is great and it’s wonderful to see you reaching out and trying new types of poetry. I can’t imagine writing poetry. That type of writing always seems most difficult. Perhaps that’s what makes it so impressive when you find one that you enjoy or means something to you. Keep swinging…very impressed!

    1. Hehehe. Thank you! <3

      I think it’s that kind of focus and tinkering that poetry requires that is really fun to me. There are so many variables and things you can do to a poem!

      I agree that it’s the challenging nature of a good poem that makes it something special when it lands. Thanks for the encouragement!

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