I have always been a big fan of poetry. I used to write a lot of poems when I was in college and throughout my 20’s. Poetry is like a magic wand helping us to transform our big feelings into something solid…something useful. To me, it’s the ultimate form of personal expression.
All of this leads me to our exploration of Bullying Awareness Month. If statistics are right, mostly all of our girls have experienced bullying in some capacity. They have either been bullied, done the bullying, or seen it happen. And, if they haven’t experienced it yet, they have experienced some form of challenging issue with a friend. They have experienced the feelings of isolation/exclusion/fear/sadness/etc that are associated with bullying. And what better way to explore these feelings than by writing them down? When we give girls the opportunity to express these feelings in the form or a poem…and, better yet…perform it…speak the words aloud in front of others…we are giving them one of the best possible gifts. Witness. Validation. We become an audience who says “I see you. I believe you. And I love you…unconditionally.” This gift builds resilience in our girls.
Spill it all out – The idea of writing a poem can be intimidating for many of us. We have learned that poems have very specific forms, meters, rules. However, the purpose of this activity is not to have our poems published or win an academic prize. The purpose of this is to access to power of poetry to make our internal thoughts and feelings external and share those feelings with others in ways that help us to better connect with each other.
In the Spill it all out phase, the writer should feel free to write without censorship or judgement. Just write whatever comes out. If “nothing is coming,” then write about that. Move through the stuck places. It always help to start with some sort of open-ended prompts, whether you are writing for yourself or leading a group of people through a writing activity.
Try using some writing prompts. Writing prompts should be kept as open-ended as possible, however, they can be tailored around a particular topic, for instance, bullying. Some examples include:
- When I think about bullying, I…
- Right now, I feel…
- A question I have for bullies is…
- If I could say one thing and I knew everyone would hear me, I would say…
- I wonder what would happen if I…
- If only you understood that I…
See what’s there – The next step is to go back through what you wrote and simply circle or highlight words, phrases or whole sentences that stand out to you for some reason. Perhaps these words and phrases stand out for their beauty or imagery. Perhaps they stand out because they get right to the heart of your feelings.
Collect what you like – The next step is to write the poem itself. At this stage, you don’t have to think of it as “writing” so much as collecting your circled words and phrases and placing them on another, fresh sheet of paper in an order that sounds and looks good to you (remember how fun magnetic poetry was in the 90’s? It’s like that). Remember, for the purposes of this activity, their is no correct way to write a poem. Just create a collage of words that speaks to you in whatever way.
As you are writing, you may also want to grab some markers or pastels and add color and images to your poem.
Share & Reflect – You may do this activity simply for your own personal reflection. You and/or your daughter may never want anyone else to hear it. However, I encourage you to remember what an amazing gift an audience can be. Remember to “say yes” and make it ok to share your “imperfect poem.” The simple act of sharing the poem says that you are willing to take the first step in making a connection the other person or people. It says you are willing to add your voice, share your feelings, and take up space in the world. And this is, after all, what we all want for our daughters.
For more incredible Go Girls! resources for helping your girl stay safe, happy, and healthy in her relationships, check out Kidpower and get your copy of Starring Celia.