Pop Up Poetry

A poem is ‘a piece of writing in which the expression of feelings and ideas is given intensity by particular attention to diction, rhythm, and imagery’ – Oxford Languages


Poetry is ‘succinct, vivid, and intense language … it is a snap-shot written from the inside out,’ says Psychology Today in April 2019.  There is something about poetry that is so powerful that it deserves its own page on this website – more powerful than writing, than journaling, that speaking … because there is an economy of words – every word is important. As Psychology Today adds, ‘The best poetry inspires readers to reflect, dream, reminisce, observe, and fantasise.’

Both the act of writing poetry and the act of reading poetry are powerful in their healing and transformative abilities. They both help people tap into their emotional selves. However, the act of writing poetry attracts some troubled individuals. Professor of psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Kay Redfield Jamison, in her 1993 book Touched With Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament, says British and Irish poets between 1600-1800 were 20 times more likely to have mood disorders ending up in an asylum than the general population. However, mania is not solely psychological – it is known to be a genetic brain disease – but there is a body of scientific evidence showing a disproportionate rate of bipolar illness in creative people, says Jamison. She also documented her own bipolar disorder in her 1995 book An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness.

Are people with mood disorders attracted to writing poetry or is it poetry that influences mood disorders? Poet Luke Wright, in a BBC interview in 2011, said, ‘A lot of creativity comes from conflict somewhere in the mind. I don’t think you have to be mad to be a poet, but if your mind is alive, then it can produce both positive and negative responses. It can mean wonderful things, but it can mean that fitting into ‘normal’ life is difficult.’ Artist and musician Scroobius Pip adds that if poets ‘are having these feelings anyway, expressing them, and writing them down, and sharing them, can help.’

Poetry has been used as therapy in hospitals as early as the mid-1700s in America, and Dr Jack L. Leedy established the Association for Poetry Therapy (APT) in 1969, says the Good Therapy website. Hospital librarian Arleen Hynes, who read about poetry therapy, began reading poems aloud to patients and developed a training program for poetry therapy. In 1980, APT became the National Association for Poetry Therapy (NAPT).

Poetry is believed to be beneficial for people to explore feelings and memories buried in the subconscious, as it can:

  1. be used as a vehicle for the expression of emotions that might otherwise be difficult to express
  2. promote self-reflection and exploration, increasing self-awareness and helping individuals make sense of their world
  3. help individuals redefine their situation by opening up new ways of perceiving reality
  4. validate emotional experiences and improve group cohesiveness by helping people realise many of their experiences are shared by others.

Poetry therapy has different models and approaches. The Nicholas Mazza model involves 3 major components: 1) receptive/prescriptive, 2) expressive/creative, and 3) symbolic/ceremonial. The therapy can be for individuals, couples, families, or groups in which, in the 3 components above, include 1) reading and speaking aloud existing poems and then interpreting them, 2) the process of writing poetry – individually or together – as a cathartic and empowering experience, and 3) involving the use of storytelling and rituals, such as ceremonies, as tools to effect change – where individuals take action to address their feelings. Poetry therapy is often used in combination with other therapies.


People don’t need to attend formal poetry therapy to gain benefits from reading and writing poetry. It can be done anywhere, anytime, by anyone.

Poetry can be read, written, heard, discussed, debated, analysed, and reviewed. You don’t have to be a professional poet or writer to write poetry. Anyone can write poetry.

Anyone can read poetry. The same poem can be interpreted differently by different people – and that’s okay – even if your interpretation is not the original intent of the poet. That’s because the poem is the starting point for people to explore their own feelings. The poet may have written about an insect as a metaphor for small issues biting and gnawing through the poet’s skin – and readers may have alternative interpretations according to their own experiences. The poem may also be a starting point in writing your own poem because it might speak about similar feelings, or completely opposite feelings.

There is no topic that is off-limits in poetry.


Poetry can be one word, ten words, or a hundred lines. There are no rules about what a poem is (unless you are writing a specific type of poem, such as a sonnet, haiku, etc.), but there is generally a rhythm to it – it doesn’t have to rhyme, but a rhythm makes it more recognisable when the words are spoken.

Therefore, poetry similarities can be words strung together in which your feelings are expressed – in a rhythm way (i.e. spoken, read, whispered, sound, shouted with feeling).

Even if you have never written a poem, you can still gain benefits from reading a poem – or part of a poem. There might be a phrase within a poem that becomes powerful and memorable to you. Even if you have never written a poem, or read a poem, you are likely to have heard one – in a film, a documentary, a podcast etc.


Poetry can be a trigger that causes a negative physical or emotional response – crying, hyperventilating, sweating, anger, hatred, etc. Often releasing the emotions leaves people feeling purged and cleansed, but triggering can make people feel overwhelmed, anxious, fearful, powerless, etc.


Poetry does not necessarily address core issues. 


“Poetry is what in a poem makes you laugh, cry, prickle, be silent, makes your toe nails twinkle, makes you want to do this or that or nothing, makes you know that you are alone in the unknown world, that your bliss and suffering is forever shared and forever all your own.” – Dylan Thomas

“Poetry and beauty are always making peace. When you read something beautiful you find coexistence; it breaks walls down.” – Mahmoud Darwish

“Poetry comes from the highest happiness or the deepest sorrow.” – A.P.J. Abdul Kalam



Poems by Georgian poet Galaktion Tabidze (1891-1959).



Tamar Zhghenti and Martina Nicolls, London 2018


Tamar Zhghenti, the internationally recognised Georgian poet, has graciously accepted to be the Rainy Day Healing inaugural Poet in Residence.

Georgian-born and now residing and studying English Language and Literature in England, Tamar Zhghenti is a poet, medical graduate, and English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher. She is the co-founder of two former youth literary clubs in Georgia, a playwright for the Theatre Higia of the Tbilisi State Medical University, and a member of the international musical theatre project, “Keats the Musical.”  

Together, Tamar Zhghenti and I – Martina Nicolls – have presented papers at two international William Shakespeare conferences (one on medicine in Shakespeare’s plays and one on the bard’s depiction of ageing) and two international James Joyce conferences (one on the Paris residences of James Joyce and one on the influence of Molly Bloom’s soliloquy in contemporary music). The conferences, in Tbilisi, were hosted by the Tbilisi State University and the Georgian American University.

Since 2022, her poems have been published in Georgian periodicals, with her poem “Soldier” selected for the Georgian-Ukrainian anthology Sow the Wheat, Ukraine published in the German language by Klak Verlage, Berlin, 2022. She won the title of Special Guest in the international spoken word poetry competition, “Antibabylon.” Together, we continue to work on the English translation of Alexandre Kazbegi’s iconic 1884 novel Khevisberi Gocha.

In April 2023, the English translation of her poem “War has a woman’s face” is published in the United Kingdom in the annual print book of the Leicester Literary Review. Also in April 2023, Intelekti Publishing in Tbilisi, Georgia, is releasing her debut poetry collection called Gulp down the sun.

With a rich background in medicine and the cultural arts, Tamar Zhghenti is perfect as Poet in Residence for Rainy Day Healing.

I present two of her most recent poems, “Revelation” and “Solo” – both shortlisted in the 20-30 age category in the South Yorkshire Hive Young Writers’ Competition 2022/2023 – in the new POET IN RESIDENCE page.


DISCLAIMER: This website’s author does not dispense medical advice or prescribe the use of any technique as a form of treatment for physical, emotional, or medical problems without the advice of a physician or psychologist, either directly or indirectly. Therefore, information provided here is not intended to replace readers’ existing or other medical, psychological, financial, or legal advice. The author’s intent is to offer general information to help readers in their quest for emotional, physical, and spiritual wellbeing, guidance towards self-empowerment, and/or for entertainment purposes only. Rainy Day Healing and Martina Nicolls shall not be held accountable for any loss which may arise from any readers’ reliance and implementation of any information provided. For information on courses and personal consultations, see TERMS AND CONDITIONS.


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