Joan Ellis: The Practice of Poetry

Can writing poetry help our wellbeing? Joan describes the healing effect of writing poetry on her life and shares a beautiful poem that sums up her experience.

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It was November 2018 when I attended a Nature and Well-being course run by Connected Worlds.

I wasn’t sure and nearly didn’t go but I desperately wanted to write and meet people. Friends helped me turn on enough courage to go. That was a huge turning point for me. The encouragement I received there, the people that I met, the means of keeping in touch via computer until now, especially in the middle of the current Covid-19 pandemic; they all allowed me not just to write poems, but to let some of my feelings out, disguised as poems. Another unseen step to most people, is trusting others to see my poetry because every single one of those sentences was an unflinching declaration of who I was, who I am and who I wanted to be.

The poems that I’ve written have, leading up to this one, been about writing your feelings safely, in small packages rather than being overwhelmed by having to produce all your experience in one huge session.

I like to think of it as antidote to having to give your health history (yet again) as that experience often causes much pain. I just wanted to let you know that poetry is having a healing effect on me and that having my poems shown here, is just another step towards allowing myself to feel again. Now, poems pop out of me. I wonder if it is something that could help you too? Connected Worlds group might give you your first step onto the path of poetry.

Best wishes for you in your searches.


The Practice of Poetry
The Practice of Poetry 
To take tentative movement
Into forbidden reaches of memories
Unclosed and water stained failures.
Entrance into exclusion zones
Built by me myself alone.
Loitering lands of Toxic, Harmful,
Radioactive painted past Time.
Thoughts inside won’t take the hint to leave
Untouchable by micro fractions of cells.
In the middle of undone seas,
Waves of regret assault, cling
To rational literal life rafts
Tangled in cotton sails.
Wrestle wakening. Hold or let go?
There are no stars out here
To guide me back to a place I no longer know.
Startling coming invitation when 
A trusting turn-sight spoken by chance,
Listens to the tiny voices
In the palest parts of heart.
Explanations have no home.
You are beyond the edges here are
Useless, Blunt and rusting.
One thing bleeds into another
And tears cannot come to aid
To carry up the slack.
Practising Poetical remembrance
Above the foundling unseen lodes.
Hauling themselves to the surface.
Cut and cover, cover and cut.
Relief comes then, swilled down with ideas.
It is a slow digestion.
It is a new pair of shoes.
It is one single promise cast off.
Feeling the sprung ground underfoot
As if for the first time.
Words come to watch the other words dance
On lines of inky letters and
Gathering inside my molten me.
By Joan Ellis

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