Poets on the therapeutic benefits of poetry

For many, poems are just simple, boring compositions that rhyme but for others, poetry is not just an art and talent but also a form of therapy.

 Ritah Umutoni recalls falling in love with poetry, before she even noticed. One Thursday evening she was bored at home. A close friend proposed to her to step out of the house for some bit of entertainment.


 The friend told her that there is an event called “Spoken Word”, that specific evening, and convinced Umutoni to accompany him, promising her that she would never regret. She dared to give it a try, even though crowded places are not her cup of tea.


 On reaching the venue, the room was a little dark, with dim, pink and green lights, crafting an ambiance, for a love poem. The male poet, who was formally dressed, played his guitar a sweet and smooth melodious way as he adoringly explained the kind of woman that his heart, longed for.


 His vivid description, left Umutoni speechless, with her jaw dropping, and conjecturing whether such romantic men still existed.

 Having gone through a tough break-up in the recent past that led to her locking and sealing her heart firmly against emotions, she doubted whether true love exists.

Sam Ruhindi, a professional photographer, is seen  reciting a poem during one of the Spoken Word evenings in Kigali. / Courtesy photos.

 The love poem however reignited love inside her and she started wondering if she should give dating another try, if a serious man, like the poet on the microphone, crossed her path.

 Poetry is known to be therapeutic especially that when the poem relates to one’s situation, no wonder, poets describe poetry as literature that endeavours to stimulate a reader’s imagination or emotions.

 Brian Bazimya, a 24-year-old poet, who has written 126 poems says, writing and reading poetry can be a trigger for growth, healing, and transformation. A person can forever be changed by the poet’s message.

 He carries on that the audience or readers tend to be most transformed by poems when poets’ express emotions or feelings right from their hearts. Poems create a clear view of the world in a better way, than assumed in the past. Poems also offer insights of imaginations in people’s minds.

 “Poems transform people’s lives in a sense that they reflect the voice of the soul.  They assist in having freedom of self-expression, especially when it is best needed,” Bazimya says.

 He further notes that writing poems can help reframe thoughts about a challenging experience, which, may lead to reconsidering one’s experience as less haphaz-ard, more significant and manageble.

 Sam Ruhindi Asiimwe, a poet and photographer, stresses that poetry is therapeutic as it communicates at the subconscious level, which is why, some lines move people to tears, bring joy, inspire or save those who feel like their lives are on the edge.

 “Like in one of my poems called “Be A warrior,” I communicate to someone with mental breakdowns and might be having challenges. In the end, it is comforting for them,” he notes.

 Asiimwe also explains that poetry can keep the doctor away, since it works by evoking an emotional response through creating, writing, sharing, and listening because it touches people deeply.

 Poems are a way of expressing feelings, for example, a person might find it easier to put painful thoughts and emotions into a poem, than openly talking about them to a friend or therapist, he adds.

 Asiimwe further states that some poems may resonate with other people on a deeper personal level, hence offering them new insight into themselves or the people they known of.

 Bazimya is of the view that poetry also creates a certain correlation and helps establish a sense of community between the poets and other people by helping them feel that they are not alone but are part of the larger community and also knowing that the path they have taken, there are others that have embarked on the similar journey.


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