A #NationalPoetryMonth message from HPU’s Allison S. Walker

By: Allison S. Walker, Department of English

In these distressing times, it’s important to embrace opportunities for resilience. Research shows that expressive writing can help us heal. You don’t have to be a professional poet or novelist to reap the benefits of this therapeutic practice. All you need is a pen and paper and the willingness to look inward. It’s just for you. It’s an exercise in self-care with tangible health benefits, some of which include increased immune system function and decreased feelings of anxiety. Engaging in this practice with others will strengthen your sense of belonging and lessen the strain of isolation and loneliness, emotions we’re all confronting as we shelter in place and alter our daily patterns of human interaction in unprecedented ways.

I’ve witnessed the power of poetry firsthand. I work with HPU students who are part of HPU LifeLines, a program dedicated to engaging elder adults, particularly those suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia, in communal poetry writing. Poetry aids their memory and elevates their overall physical and psychological wellbeing.  

In honor of National Poetry Month, I’d like to share some artistic inspiration from our HPU students, faculty, and their children in the latest issue of Apogee, HPU’s literary magazine. I hope it offers a moment of respite from the stress of our socially distant lives. Our world needs art to help us weather this storm, and I can think of no better way to bring us together as a family than by celebrating the creative work of our HPU community.

I would also like to share a poem that has sustained me. Even as we bear witness to unfathomable suffering in our world today, we’re also seeing a resurgence of nature. Whether it’s clear blue skies free of chronic smog, the fox marauding through my semi-urban neighborhood, or the countless Americans suddenly taking to the sidewalks and parks, our natural world has become a source of solace and a symbol of the interconnected web of life we’re all threaded through. The poem, “Wild Geese,” by Mary Oliver, resonates anew in these difficult times. I hope you will take a moment to enjoy!

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