Here at Digging Deep, we know that poetry has many purposes. Reading poetry can entertain, enlighten and make you see things in new ways, from new perspectives. For young people with medical challenges, writing poetry can help make sense of the sometimes-traumatic experiences surrounding care. By putting observations, experiences and feelings in writing, young people can take control of these emotions while releasing some of their negative power through the process of expression.
Feelings and fears that you keep inside can grow and darken; fears released through poetry transform into gifts that can help others in similar situations.
This month of April, National Poetry Month, we challenge you to write poetry from your heart about your experience of chronic illness or disability. If you are the loved one of a chronically ill young person, you can write, too! What do you know from your experience that is unique? What do you think is important for people to know about you? What do you wish you knew as you started your journey of chronic illness or disability?
Please send entries to email@example.com. We will publish all entries on our Facebook page. At the end of the month, we will randomly select three winners to receive a free copy of the Digging Deep Journal!
And because we know that the hardest part of writing is getting started, here are excerpts from poems about illness (linked to full versions) that we hope will provide inspiration:
Their zapper instruments
And shoot at your cells like you are
One of those Nintendo video games
Over and over again
And I get to sit in the waiting room
Hoping the red cells surrender
And the white ones win”
From “Thirty-Eight, Cancer Poem: For Sharon” by Poet M.e.
“Poor sick kids are sleeping with un-normal insides.
Sickness is rolling around them messing them up.
And they wonder, “Will I wake up in the morning
or is this my last night to sleep?”
From “Life in the Hospital” by Kaitlyn Langstaff
“I hold marbles in my hand. One could be a golf ball lying in the grass. One could be the earth turning around. In one, I can see myself, just the way I am, a beautiful girl in the hospital who wishes she could be dancing.”
From “Magic Marbles” by Marquita Bennett
“The room inside of me is red like my heart and fire. The room inside of me has flowers and roses with butterflies in them. The room inside of me eats what I eat. The room inside of me feels warm like fall.”
From an untitled poem by Latisha Wright
“Do you ever wonder why me?
I find this question damaging.
Such questions don’t let you be free.”
From “Damaging” by Deidra Abbott
Garth Sundem is a parent, husband, and author of books including “Real Real Kids, Real Stories, Real Change”.