Poets for a Cause: K.Y. Robinson
One of my favorite things about being part of the poetry community is getting to read and experience so many different feelings and emotions. Every writer has a unique voice that they use to bravely write about the causes in their hearts.
In an earlier post, I wrote about modern poets who are making a difference in their communities by speaking out about issues such as mental health, illness, grief, and trauma.
I wanted to start a series that showcases poets who raise awareness and shed light on the subjects that matter most because poetry has the power to get people talking about the big topics and to open up larger, more understanding conversations.
My hope is that through this series, you will see the different faces of the poetry community and what they stand for. This kind of discussion reminds us that we never have to walk through our circumstances alone. All of us struggle in our own ways, and it is through talking about it that we can truly learn to heal. Sometimes, we even find ways to transform that pain into words, into poetry, into art.
I recently asked K.Y. Robinson which topic she strives to shed light on and bring awareness to through her poetry.
“In my work, I want to shed light on stigma and misconceptions surrounding mental illness,” she said. “For so many years, the stigma swallowed me whole and I felt like I had no one else to turn to. I want readers who live with mental illness to know that they’re not alone and do not have to suffer in silence. It’s okay not to be okay. It’s also okay to seek help.”
The stigma surrounding mental illness is real, and it impacts so many people. It can often be the very thing that prevents people from reaching out or seeking help. K.Y. Robinson was so candid and raw with her response, and I know that she is not alone in the isolation that she has often felt while coping with her mental illness. I asked her if she could choose one poem to really spotlight this concept, and she provided this hauntingly beautiful piece:
when you’re feeling low
your mental health
is as delicate
It only takes one misstep
for it to shatter and make you feel
like shards of nothingness.
there are days you’ll wish
to un-breathe every breath,
unopen your eyes
and fade into black.
I beg of you to keep filling
your lungs with air.
line the darkness
with stars until
the sun rises again.
your heart of gold will repair
the broken pieces.
I was so moved by this piece. You can tell that she writes from a place of immense understanding and empathy. If you’ve ever felt hopeless or like you’re one step away from shattering beyond repair, this poem serves as a reminder that others have been there.
Others have walked in pain and despair too. There are eyes that are looking for yours in your struggle. There are eyes that see you and want to help you.
My favorite line from this piece is: “line the darkness with stars until the sun rises again.” How powerful. I think that the stars can symbolize so many things: they can be the support of loved ones or the caring direction of a therapist. The stars can be a reminder of every single day that you are still here and still fighting. That is light. That is survival.
Mostly, I love the compassion and humanity in K.Y.’s words. As K.Y. mentioned in her earlier response, it is okay if you’re not okay. But, you’re also not alone. You’ll never be alone.
For more incredible poems from K.Y. Robinson, be sure to check out her collection The Chaos of Longing. It is filled with vulnerability, sincerity, and hope.
**If you’d like to nominate a poet for a post in the “Poets for a Cause” series, please contact Liz Newman.**