The Transformative Power
by Kim Rosen
by Jennifer Esperanza
you ever experienced a lightning bolt of energy when you finally
express something that has been locked within you? That is what
happens when your entire being is aligned with the truth of the
words you speak. The great visionary Hildegard of Bingen once said,
“When the inner and the outer are wedded, revelation occurs.” Poetry
can be a powerful medicine to wed your inner life with your outer
words and actions. When you find a poem you love and speak it aloud,
tremendous healing and power can be ignited. It doesn’t matter
if you choose a mystical poem by the twelfth century poet, Rumi—This
longing / you express is the return message—or a poem of outrage
by modern poet and activist Audre Lorde—There are so many roots
to the tree of anger / that sometimes the branches shatter. The
sheer ring of truth can wake you up to the present moment, fill
your voice with the truth of your innermost wisdom, and lead to
inspired action in the world.
I spent many years believing I couldn’t relate to poetry—simply
because I had not come across poems that spoke the language of
my particular life. Then, in the midst of a suicidal depression,
I came upon a breed of poetry that, for me, was more powerful than
any therapy, religion or medicine I had ever known. These poems
became like prayers or mantras to me: I read them over and over,
I spoke them aloud, I even learned many of them by heart. They
infused not only my heart and mind with inspiration, but they literally
affected my biochemistry, changing my brain waves and freeing my
consciousness from the cage of its habitual thought patterns.
I invite you to take a poem you love into your heart and your
body. Develop a vibrant relationship with it. Become intimate with
it and allow it to guide you into intimacy with yourself. Receive
the poem’s gifts as it illuminates undiscovered realms within you.
And give the poem the gift of a home in your particular humanness.
If you do this, that poem can become a teacher that is always with
you, touching and changing every moment of your life.
In this column of Feminist.com, I will offer “journeys” into how
poetry can inspire your life, and how you can inspire others when
you speak it aloud.
The first step is to find a poem you love. I realize that for
many of us, this is no easy task. As I said, there were 30 years
of my life when I was intimidated by poetry. It seemed like a secret
language and I had never been given the code! Even today, I do
not relate to much of the poetry I read. However, the select (and
ever-growing) group of poems that I love have quite literally saved
How do you find a poem that you love? Perhaps you and I are similar,
and the poems I love will also speak to you. In the back of the
by a Poem: The Transformative Power of Words there is
a list of 50 of my favorite poems. There are also several wonderful
anthologies listed in the resource section.
But even if we are different, and your soul needs to give voice
to a whole other genre of poetry, you only need to find one poem
for the journey to begin. Perhaps you heard a poem that touched
you at a wedding or a funeral or a rally. Hunt it down. Google
is a fantastic resource: just type in a line from a poem and the
author, and you may find what you are looking for instantly. The
Poetry Foundation has a wonderful “Poetry Tool” on the front
page of their website that will help you find poems on any theme.
If you like spiritual poetry, try a luxurious stroll through The
Poetry Chaikhana. Another helpful site is www.Poemhunter.com.
Once you’ve found that first poem that speaks to you, it is easy
to find others. Check out other poems by the same author. Look
through anthologies that include that poem, there may be kindred
For this first journey, you only need one poem. Or even a few
lines from a poem that you love. Take that poem into your life
as a companion. Don’t turn the page once you’ve read it. Read it
again. Read it out loud to yourself and feel how the phrasing and
rhythm of the poem affect the breath and pulsations of your body.
Read it like a prayer before you go to sleep and upon waking. Notice
how it changes the texture of your nights and mornings. Even write
it out and carry it around in your pocket to read again and again
– on the bus, in line at the supermarket, stuck in traffic. Notice
how those words change the texture of your experience, bringing
aliveness and passion to even the most mundane of moments.
In future installments of this “journey,” I will suggest other
ways to take that poem into your life and speak it to others that
can bring healing, empowerment and inspiration to you and those
Kim Rosen, MFA, author of Saved
by a Poem: The Transformative Power of Words (Hay
House, 2009), has touched listeners around the world with poetry’s
power to awaken, inspire and heal. She is the co-creator of
four CD’s of spoken poetry and music and has delivered poetry
in a wide spectrum of venues from the crypt of Chartres Cathedral
to the New Orleans Superdome. Combining her devotion to poetry
with her background as a spiritual teacher and therapist, she
has given inspirational keynotes, workshops, trainings, retreats
and private sessions in corporations, colleges, high schools,
nonprofit organizations, retreat centers. For more info on
Kim, or the book, visit www.kimrosen.net.