I have loved the poems of W.B.Yeats since my dad showed me one of his poems back in his dusty, book-lined study at home. I had read poems before but never been that excited by them. There was something about the guttural, grief-stricken anger of Yeats’ political voice combined with the ethereal quality of his imagery that caught me. His work took me to a different world. It got me seriously interested in history, politics and human rights. It inspired me to write poems again: something I hadn’t done since I was at primary school. His poem The Second Coming was one of my favourites and still is today. Written in 1919, it is full of brooding tension and contains a stark warning: ‘The best lack all conviction, while the worst/Are full of passionate intensity.’ It strikes me that this continues to be relevant: those who are full of love, moderation, tolerance and empathy tend to be quieter in this world than those who are full of hate and judgement. It is so important that we don’t leave positions of power to those who shout the loudest and in the most binary, dramatic terms. Make your voice heard! Don’t leave it to others to speak up for what you believe in. Those with messages of love must learn to be loudest.
I write because it makes things better. I love singing, dancing, reading and listening to people. I believe it’s ok to feel however you actually feel and that the word ‘should’ should be banned. I am aware of the irony in that sentence. I have an incredibly soft, black-and-white cat called Elwood, who loves yoghurt and ham. I have struggled a lot with depression, anxiety and OCD. I have had some brilliant therapy and some that was less good, but I firmly believe in therapy. I have two children, who are both wonderful and maddening (aren’t they all?) and now I’m studying again. When I feel rubbish, writing helps me find my way out of the maze, channelling my feelings and centering me again. I’ll keep writing because it’s good for me but if it interests other people too, then that’s really great. I believe that self-compassion is at the root of wellbeing and that when we are kind to ourselves, we are kinder to others too. I believe that the phrase: ‘sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me’ is the most unhelpful pack of lies we could possibly tell ourselves. Words can hurt, and they do, but they can also heal. Words are extremely powerful.
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