Friday, December 20, 2019

The Power of Poetry

"April McNary, a teacher at Sunnyslope High School in Phoenix, Arizona, has always believed in the transformative power of reading and writing. The honest conversations that are sparked by this creative work, she says, are some of the most valuable to her...
One area of creative expression McNary felt like she needed to boost in her classroom was poetry. Knowing that reading one's own poetry is terrifying for some (and something I still won't assign), I figured something less daunting was to read a poem someone else had written/published," she explains.

But she implemented a twist — students had to choose a poem with which they had some sort of personal connection. Little did she know what incredible moments were about to transpire as a result. One girl came out in front of the class. A boy, who was known as a jock, wept while telling everyone his mother was dying of cancer...

The common thread through all of these incredibly emotional admissions was empathy; the class rallied around each person going through it, applauding, hugging, and weeping right along with them. The act of expressing oneself through another's words seemed to be the permission they needed to open the floodgates and truly support one another.

One reading in particular, however, hit McNary at her core. A student in her class named Chris* brought in a poem from the novel, "The Perks of Being a Wallflower," that clearly denotes suicidal ideation. But it wasn't just the context of the poem that concerned her, "it was the way he read it..."

Read the story in it entirety and learn what happened to both Chris and McNary here.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) is a toll-free hotline available 24/7/365.