3 Poets to Rely On During Hard Times
The warmth of summer is near. The flowers of spring are approaching, and Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. There are so many reasons to feel inspired about life and enjoy each day to the fullest. But sometimes you get a fever, or someone cuts you off in traffic, or the people around you are going through a challenging time. Such is life: there are always going to be highs and lows like the tides.
For the lows, there are always poets you can turn to. Below are three bards you can read and listen to while you’re curled up under the blankets with a warm cup of tea.
I was drawn to Christopher Poindexter’s sensitivity, the vintage aesthetic of his Instagram page, and his message of searching for love and light amidst the challenges of life. He is a well-known modern poet with a knack for expressing honest reflections about romance and mental health. He has established a community of thousands of followers who tattoo his words on their bodies or share how his books have impacted their lives.
On his prolific page, he often shares personal journal entries about the struggles of being human. He writes about a variety of topics: being an empath, overcoming addiction, loving himself, and understanding his sexual orientation. These long posts are sometimes stream-of-conscious, and other times prose poems such as this one where he writes: “How do we finally lift the veil of every burden and find beneath it a new motherly face to kiss?” And the conversation isn’t one-sided: If you read these entries, you will find thousands of responses from people who either relate to what he’s going through or value his honesty. Honesty is addictive: It makes others open up, and Christopher is a master at sharing his feelings.
Mental health has long been a taboo topic not only in the United States but also throughout the world. The stigma associated with writing or talking about depression, anxiety, or any of the various psychological ailments of the mind is daunting especially for those who are suffering. Courtney Phillips is a poet and storyteller who offers her Instagram page as a safe space to discuss her journey with mental health. For people who can’t afford to receive therapy or join a support group, or for those who just want a community, her page has become a haven. During Instagram Live sessions, she often encourages her followers to turn to her for help.
Even though she’s only 22, Courtney has already self-published two short story collections and two poetry collections. Her latest work do you have a second? “is a book of gentle reminders, affirmations, exercises, and mental health resources that can help you when you are struggling.” It was released by Eliezer Publishing, an independent press that publishes mental health books such as the popular #ThisIsWhatAnxietyFeelsLike. These are all great resources for people looking to heal and engage in self-therapy.
If you like reading about mental health, you can’t miss out on the funny, witty, and talented musings of Melissa Broder. A well-known poet, novelist, and essayist, she writes deeply and candidly about mental health, but she utilizes dark humor as her signature writing style. She’s written four poetry collections and received a Pushcart Prize for her poem, “Forgotten Sound.” Her famous book, So Sad Today, was lauded by feminist writer, Roxane Gay, as “sad and uncomfortable and their own kind of gorgeous.” Her Vice column of the same name and her Twitter account have helped many readers confront their own anxiety and fears while having a much-needed laugh about it.
Scientific studies have long found that laughing is an effective way of relieving stress and pain. Melissa’s poetry and prose offer relatable experiences that women can connect with. In this interview with Melissa, writer Sofia Sears shares her insights about comedy and pain: “When it comes to mental illness, those who don’t experience it tend to tiptoe around the subject and grin awkwardly when we joke about our malfunctioning brains. Yet humor is a basically universal coping mechanism, and laughter can feel like exhaling.”
A long time ago, I had a friend who thought that writing about yourself and sharing your challenges with the world was “solipsistic,” and I couldn’t disagree more. It takes courage and strength to be vulnerable. When you share your authentic self with the world, not only do you heal yourself, but you also influence others to share their journey towards healing.
Christopher, Courtney, and Melissa: these three poets fit my definition of souls who are genuinely altruistic and caring. They use their online presence to inspire, to encourage, and to let others know the truth about life: You are not alone because we’re all in this together. This journey called life.