Poetry as sacred medicine. What a concept. Of course it is, but it took Kim Rosen to say so.
Learning a poem by heart is something I first had to do in Grade 7. The class learned Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening, Out, Out—, Sea Fever, The Charge of the Light Brigade, and another about a deer, which I completely forget.
I no longer know them to recite "by heart" anymore, but somehow I took them into me, the rhythm of the words, the up and down of them.
It's very soothing to recite from memory. I think it allows you to ride the words with more fluidity when you recite them aloud from your heart than when you follow along the lines in a book. It's like the difference between a calm sea voyage and riding a camel, bump bump bump (neither of which I've done, just taking poetic license here!)
But can you be SAVED by a poem? Sure, why not? Of course, I say.
So does Kim Rosen. Because she has been saved by a poem. She takes very literally the term "learn by heart," interpreting it as something much different than memorizing.
And now she travels the world, talking about her experience of living with depression and how poetry heals her heart in those difficult times. Her book, Saved By a Poem, is on my wish-list. A visit to her website and a listen to this podcast of an interview with Rosen by CBC's Michael Enright will have to do for now.
Hope you enjoy.