Thursday, April 10, 2014

Poetry and Emotion

I mentioned in my last post that Wordsmith Studio holds weekly Twitter chats on Tuesday night (#wschat). This past Tuesday, we chatted about poetry. During one of the chats, the thought was expressed that some people may shy away from or even fear reading poetry because it may elicit an emotional reaction.

A few years ago, I wrote a poem called, Lifetime Guarantee. It talks about the staying power of emotions. As the link notes, I had gone to see an exhibit about the year 1968. As I was going through it, I started to feel uncomfortable, sad and pretty drained. I finally realized that I was feeling some of the emotions that I had felt when the various events that occurred that year had taken place.

Last November, I read "JFK Assassination a Collective Memory for American Children" on the CNN blog. Here is a quote from the  piece:

Flashbulb memories, as they're called by memory experts, are vivid remembrances of significant events; a mental snapshot of the who, what, when and where -- and the emotional fallout.
These memories, according to neuroscience writer and professor W.R. Klemm, can be particularly reinforced by the images associated with them.

Although 50 years had passed, I was able to put together a pretty detailed description of hearing the news of President Kennedy's assassination in the poem, Where I Was. And yes, I did cry when I was writing it. I also had a strong emotional reaction to other poet's work on the same topic.

Because of my involvement with a bereavement support group, I have become more comfortable with expressing my emotions. In fact, I have told the group that I probably never would have started writing poetry if I hadn't attended the group.

What are your thoughts about the emotional reactions triggered by poetry? Have you dealt with this in your writing or reading? Does it make you uncomfortable or have you come to terms with it?

Follow me on Twitter or click the Join this Site link to follow this blog.


  1. I will write on topics that cause me to cry while writing. I am glad that I am alone when that happens. It is also much harder for me to release those writings. It is not only sharing my thoughts but having others react that makes me think twice about it.

    1. I have written some things that I haven't shared for that reason, too, Carol. Thanks for sharing your experiences with us.