“Writing poetry helps me stay positive”
Poetry and MS
I was diagnosed with an aggressive form of relapsing remitting MS four years ago. I've been on Tysabri infusions every 4 weeks for three and a half years.
When I was diagnosed I was a self-employed performing poet, community artist and taekwondo instructor. After my first relapse I had another relapse every two weeks. After a couple of months I had no feeling below my waist. I had to slow down a lot.
I now work part time in an arts centre and my feeling has come back throughout my body. I live a calmer and slower life. One thing that has helped me to focus my energy, stay positive and feel a sense of control is writing poetry.
The reasons I write
I write for all kinds of reasons, sometimes I write for clarity, to make sense of my own feelings. I write because I love being in the flow, totally consumed by the moment, it’s like swimming or what I imagine flying must be like to a bird of prey.
As a child I spent a lot of time being afraid so I made up rhymes and stories because that helped me feel safer. When I got older I realised my personal history was being rewritten or glossed over, so I wrote to cling on to my truth. I write to articulate something important, deep hurt or deep love and sometimes to make people laugh.
There are lots of places to see poets for National Poetry Day this October. There are events happening all over the country. There are programmes to watch on BBC iPlayer, including the awesome performing poet Kate Tempest (who was on BBC2 on Saturday night), the documentary film 'We are Poets' and 'Railway Nation: A Journey in Verse'.
You can watch poems on YouTube all the time and it’s always worth checking out what’s happening in your local area.
A message for you
I hope you have a great National Poetry Day. Here’s a mesostic poem that I’ve just written for you.
A message from my brain:
Connecting on Facebook likes and suggestions,
meeting and making real life connections.
Notes to self,
to help manage my time,
to remember the shopping,
the Friday night wine.
Handwritten notes and books full of lists,
I write so many it gives me sore wrists.
A message to all my friends with MS,
I know you are doing your best.
Ann is a TV addict and writer with relapsing remitting MS. She hosts a pub quiz and a spoken word night called Verbalise. She has a border collie called Barbara. Visit her website.