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Read and write poetry to release childhood pain

Healing from childhood wounds can occur through expressing and sharing them. A powerful way to express emotional pain is through poetry. Did you know that when people express difficult feelings, they can release their emotional pain? Writing in general as a form of healing is well documented in books such as Opening Up: The Healing Power of Expressing Emotions by James Pennebaker.

And writing poetry is famous as a vehicle for emotional release. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of examples of poems focused on difficult memories from the early years. A delightful book on the power of writing about childhood experiences is This Is Just To Say: Poems of Apology and Forgiveness by Joyce Sidman and Pamela Zagarenski.

If you’re not ready to write your own memories, reading this type of poetry can help you let go of your pain in a cathartic process, even if it’s not exactly about your situation. Because of the connection between poetry and emotions, if you read poems, you can tune in to feelings, just like a tuning fork vibrates at a certain frequency, whether it is used for a piano or a violin. Readers can release painful childhood memories through the vibrations of words on a page.

If you read poetry about childhood experiences and let it sink into your being, you can begin to let go of your own pain by vicariously experiencing the magical, even spiritual, cathartic process that has taken place within the poet. The Library of Congress’s 20th Poet Laureate Consultant on Poetry, the great William Stafford, underscored the power of that process by noting that he would trade all his published poems (and there were over sixty books full of them) for the heartfelt EXPERIENCE of writing the Next. That powerful emotional experience of writing poetry can also be felt while reading it: that’s the connection. Reading poems that express other people’s childhood pain can help you let go of your own.

Best of all, reading poetry about childhood hurts can be an example of how to write your own. Poetry about childhood can be any way you want to set it on the page. Just make sure you’re being as honest as possible at the time. And it’s never too late: William Stafford was forty-eight when his first collection of poetry, Journeying Through Darkness, was published. Reading poetry about other people’s childhood hurts can help you see how easy it might be to start writing your own.

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