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Pen to paper and the power of poetry

This year’s Children's Mental Health Week is all about finding ways to express yourself, whether that is through art, poetry, drama, dance, sport. In particular, youth poetry has blown up in recent years. We look at its sudden rise and how young people in our services are using their creativity for good. 

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Poetry facts and figures

1.3 million

volumes of poetry were sold in 2018

41%

of these sales were to people aged 13 to 22

Poetry in motion

illustration from young people's poetry book

Poetry for the masses

Poetry sales hit an all-time high in 2018 thanks to teenagers and young millennials. Once part of an old academic club, poetry is now accessible to all. At President Biden’s inauguration, it was a 22-year-old poet laureate who stole the headlines. She wowed the world.

Poetry is no longer a pastime of stuffy classrooms, the young are taking ownership. And they're using poetry to understand difficult emotions in a world that is becoming increasingly complex.

Instagram and poetry

How has this happened? Well, partly because of social media. Instagram has become a popular place for sharing art, making it more accessible than ever before. It is also a place to open up about difficult feelings.

Rupi Kaur became an award-winning poet through sharing short Instapoetry on topics of abuse, identity, femininity, and loss. Her feed became a safe space to discuss topics such as mental health, for fans to connect and share any sadness they had been through. 

Young persons poetry

Between the lines

It is sometimes not easy to talk about how you are feeling. But reading someone else’s words that articulate something you feel can be incredibly comforting and freeing. Similarly, writing poetry can help young people talk about their feelings, one post at a time.

When something is too confusing to talk about, art can help process these thoughts. Young people in our services will often use poetry to express how they’re feeling, and it can help open up conversations that are otherwise difficult to start.

The sky is the limit illustration and poem

A picture is worth a thousand words 

Not everybody turns to words to express themselves. Drawing or painting can also help bring those inner thoughts to the surface. Just like with poetry, art has never been so accessible.  Instagram has become a great space for young illustrators and artists to express themselves online.  

Cree, 18, explained to us how art helped her express herself during some of her more challenging times. She also shared an impressive painting she created. 
 

Cree explaining her art

Art of a human outline with a rainbow through the head

‘Seeing how one picture can provoke 50 different interpretations and none being the same as the next person, motivated me to paint.’ 

I see art as a subtle protest with a big impact, giving us a sense of security that we aren’t alone.

‘There are so many explanations I could say about what meaning I had behind this painting but I want it to be personal to you, and give you the confidence in your own word and your worth even just a little.’ 

Express yourself

It is important to remember that expressing oneself is not about being good at something. It is simply about finding creative ways to share our feelings and ideas. Now more than ever, young people need the space to this.

We will continue to be inspired by young people’s creativity and will do our best to encourage it through the work we do.