Poetic Medicine

Poetry is a life-cherishing force. 

For poems are not words, after all, 

but fires for the cold, ropes let down

to the lost, something as necessary

as bread in the pockets of the hungry.

- Mary Oliver

Dylan Thomas wrote of poetry as being similar to going down to his boat dock to lower a bucket into the deep water and find out what’s there. Poetry is the bucket which we lower into the depths of our subconscious to find out what it brings up. And our language doesn’t have to be fancy or sophisticated, but true. 


The practice of poetry is a way to check in with ourselves each day. “The true artist” an Aztec poem begins, “...maintains dialogue with his heart, meets things with his mind. The true artist: draws out all from his heart...makes things calm.”  John Fox writes in his book, Poetic Medicine, The Healing Art of Poem Making, “You make a poem with words - but you build an interior place when you write, a place where your intuitive voice may awaken and thrive…. Poetry provides guidance, revealing what you did not know before you wrote or read the poem. This moment of surprising yourself with your own words of wisdom or of being surprised by the poems of others is at the heart of poetry as healer.” 


I often witness this at work in poetry circles. When someone reads their poem aloud, they realize the poem is actually SPEAKING TO THEM. Giving them wisdom and guidance from a hidden place deep inside them. Gently offering guidance.


My hope is that you will discover that your words, your voice, your language, do indeed have transformative power. 


Poetic Medicine is a unique process. We seek to bring the qualities of mindfulness to the poem, non-judgement, awareness, deep listening, stillness, and silence. We don't judge our poems, per se, as “good” or “bad," though re-vision is also a way we refine our truths.  Rather, we look to poetry as a living oracle of the body, as signs, symbols, messengers from our inner world that can help guide us to new perspectives and shift our perceptions. Richard Shelton says,  “For me writing the poem was the process by which I learned something about myself I had not previously known, at least not consciously.” This bringing what resides in the “unconscious” or darkness, and making it conscious is the magic of poem-making.




I believe the world is beautiful

and that poetry, like bread, is for everyone.


And that my veins don't end in me

but in the unanimous blood

of those who struggle for life,


little things,

landscape and bread,

the poetry of everyone


  • Roque Dalton