Recent research now indicates that poetry increases the properties of health and wellbeing. The speaking or hearing of poetry has increased benefits for an individual’s health and wellbeing. Like music it lights up and activates the right side of the brain that processes emotion, memory and reflection and igniting new connection and bonds. Allowing and interface between the internal and external, poetry enables lived learning experience to be explored; helping to shift and blend present experience with new experience. Giving birth to new connection and understanding of the self and place.
Poetry can engender empathy and understanding of others, by expanding its capacity to engage on difficult subjects in complex thought and concepts and giving rise to self-reflection.
Poetry and storytelling helps create connection, friendship and community. It establishes points of commonality and discussion, re-energises distant memories and reflections through sharing these with others This encourages understanding of others, bolstering wellbeing, belonging and a sense of place, while protecting individuals from isolation and loneliness.
The Living Voices project, led by the Scottish Poetry Library, the Scottish Storytelling Centre and Scottish Music Group, has shown that ‘talking, listening, reading and remembering' are powerful ways to gain (and sometimes to regain) pleasure, interest and companionship for older people”, and suggested that using poetry and storytelling in participatory sessions can have profound impact on mental health, bonding and integration into new communities.
Jeffrey Wright, star of Westworld, Source Code, Boardwalk Empire and Casino Royale, has joined with HBO and groups of American military veterans to produce a documentary, ‘We Are Not Done yet’, which shows the huge benefits of using especially poetry in allowing veterans suffering from PTSD to express their trauma in a creative and safe environment.