Fern Deffley - 'There lies beauty in pain, it’s called poetry. – Natalia Crow'

In a small room in a library in the centre of Rotherham for the past ten weeks people of different ages, genders and experiences have been coming together to learn how to write poetry. At first, I was apprehensive, can poetry really have an effect on our mental health? Well, the truth is, poetry can do so much more than that. In the Connected Worlds group, poetry has given people a platform to explore their pain, their fears, their worries and create friendships between people who would have never met if it wasn’t for the course.

Judgement and fear are often the key barriers that stop us from embracing change and finding help when experiencing either depression, anxiety or any other kind of mental health issue. One member explained how “the bonds formed very quickly, there’s no judgement here, there’s no fear.” Connected Worlds removed any thoughts of judgement and fear after the initial session. There were members who had never spoken out about their mental health and they became comfortable talking about their experiences through the voice of poetry. All members explained how they had never written poetry before or ever considered trying to write creatively. Although, after a few weeks of attending the poetry course, they learnt how to express their emotions through words. It is safe to say that all members found their voice because of this course and the friendships formed only reinforced this.

One of the most inspiring pieces of work created was a collaborative piece. The members worked together to map out their journey onto the drawing of a river. This river explored the members emotions and experiences of their mental health and how Connected Worlds has helped them explore their pain. This art-work was then explored through a collaborative poem where each member wrote a section to describe their own experience. Taken together, the art-work and the poem explore the journey that each individual member has embarked on over the past ten weeks and illustrates how friendship and poetry can begin to improve your mental health.

In addition to the collaborative piece, the group has a published anthology of all the poetry that the members have written. There is raw emotion that runs throughout the anthology, exploring individual’s pain, grief, loss but also hopes for the future. Often a key aspect of combatting depression and/or anxiety is being productive. The Connected Worlds group gave each member the opportunity to learn a new skill, explore their mental health, meet new people and achieve the honour of being published. You can find a lot of the members’ poetry on the Sheffield Flourish website – I cannot encourage you to read their work enough – trust me when I say, it is truly inspiring.

It just shows how much people can come together when they are in pain and transform that pain into something creative and beautiful. As Natalia Crow said – “There lies beauty in pain, it’s called poetry.”

If you’re interested in taking part in a creative writing group, then there will be a male’s group beginning at the end of April, the course will run for twelve weeks. It might be time for you to embrace the beauty of your pain through poetry.

By Fern Deffley

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