Poetry is Power

THE ANTHOLOGY publicity cover


Last year, I wrote a guest blog about Brookwood, a St. Petersburg, Florida group home for abused adolescent girls.  I visited with the poetry group (started by a wonderful, giving woman by the name of Jeanne Chase) and had a truly remarkable night talking with these young writers.

That visit led to Jeanne Chase asking me to edit an anthology of poetry she wanted to publish that included work from the eight years in which she’d be conducting her workshops.  Even though I have never edited anything before, and don’t necessarily consider myself a poet, I agreed.  I wanted to be involved with something that I found so moving and powerful.

I read my way through eight years worth of poetry – some of it raw, some of it devastating, some of it beautiful. Some of the work showed true talent, all of it honest and utterly fearless.

On the page, the girls lay it all bare – they write about their anger, their sadness.  They write about hope and faith, their dreams of the future, their quests to love and be loved.  They write about abandonment, and finding love in unexpected places – even deep within.  They write about fear and finding courage when they look inside themselves.  They write about letting go of the past, and moving ahead with a brave and hopeful heart.  They write about anger and forgiveness, about rejection and acceptance.  They are telling the story of themselves in poetry, telling us about their challenging, complicated, beautiful lives. If only all writers came to the page with the same courage.

Brookwood is an important place.  It offers a home and a program of empowerment to girls who might otherwise be without direction – who might find themselves lost to the streets. Poetry, the act of finding your voice, putting words to the page, trying to understand and narrate life in order to live better is a significant and meaningful part of that program. Poetry is power.