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The power of poetry during COVID-19

16 Dec 2020


Lynette Spicer, Speech Pathology Head of Department, Child and Family Health, Primary Care and Community Health recently shared with us her experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lynette has a hidden talent. Poetry has been her secret weapon to keep her spirits high during this difficult period and she shares her tips with us.

What do you enjoy about poetry?

I love the sound and feel of words and the depth and diversity of their meaning. I love the rhythm of a phrase and the pleasure of a perfectly formed idea that succinctly paints a picture or conveys an emotion.

I love that poems are short and that you can dip in and out of a book of poems. For my birthday last year, I asked all my family to pick their favourite poem and read it aloud to everyone. There was a reluctance at the beginning which morphed into enthusiasm by the end; everyone was glad I had 'made' them join in.

How has poetry helped you to cope with the pandemic? What is it about poetry that is relaxing?

This was the first poem I have actually written for a long time.

COVID Frustrations of a Paediatric Speech Pathologist

To communicate

      to hear

           to see

               to interact

A subtle dance between two beings

     to connect

          to share

But COVID comes…
It tears at the intricate cobweb of conversation

     A screen divides, delays, distorts

     A mask muffles and obscures

     1.5 metres disconnects

And yet…

We engage, we model, we describe, we encourage

We cheer from a distance

In the hope of making a difference.

I used to write more often when I was younger. I generally write if an idea catches my attention or I am feeling particularly emotional about something.

Writing poetry for me is not particularly relaxing; it is either delightfully satisfying because the ideas just flow, or it is intensely frustrating because anything you write sounds clunky and laboured.

This poem almost wrote itself. The frustrations had been running on loop in my head for weeks, but I think I spent less than half an hour on it - from starting to write, to having a finished poem.

What are you tips for anyone wanting to try poetry to de-stress?

  1. Harness a strong emotion as this will help you write something meaningful
  2. Notice the extraordinary in ordinary moments for inspiration
  3. Think about the flow and rhythm of your phrases and sentences
  4. Don't be boxed in by rhyming or traditional poetical structures – free verse is a great place to start
  5. Don't worry if you get stuck. Do something else, come back to it later, or try writing about a different idea.