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Monthly poems chosen by your Wellbeing Advisors

Words can have the power to hurt but also have the power to heal.  Poetry has been used for centuries to help express or endure some of life’s most painful and difficult moments.  Poetry helps us translate the emotions of deep loss, heartache or even depression into verse. It enables us to confront our innermost feelings and thoughts providing a creative and safe channel, which we can share with others.

Poems can feel comforting and transport us out of our own world into someone else’s. Writing your own poetry might even provide a tool to process and explore complex feelings that are difficult to understand. It is also a shared experience and can offer a deep connection with others.  Poetry may also help to widen vocabulary and cultural knowledge and there are many great poets to choose from, from different centuries and cultural backgrounds. They all provide insight into humanity, opening our eyes to a world of different experiences.

We thought we would use this platform to share a monthly poem that has inspired, soothed and comforted the team and hope you enjoy them as much as we have.






How to be Strong by Nikita Gill


There are no rules.

You are already strong.


Even when you fall apart

in the most public place you know.


Even when your knees hit the floor

and your trauma meets you in floods.


Even when your body wracks with sobs

fashioned in the belly of a tsunami.


Even when the sorrow feels like

the endless nature of drowning.


your grit is right there

inside you.


Your strength is within you always

to call up when you want to.


And besides, didn’t anyone ever tell you

that endurance is resilience,


that strength looks

so different on us all?


On some it looks like still waters and on others

It looks like a dam bursting as the water falls.

I chose this poem as it resonated with me for this time of year. As we head towards spring there is a often a feeling of letting go and leaning into new beginnings. A spring clean or clear-out can be extremely therapeutic and can leave us feeling lighter and more clear headed. This can also be said for letting go of things in our lives, that no longer serve us. Let go of any burdens and allow yourself room, for the things that really matter to you.






Storage By Mary Oliver


When I moved from one house to another
there were many things I had no room
for. What does one do? I rented a storage
space. And filled it. Years passed.
Occasionally I went there and looked in,
but nothing happened, not a single
twinge of the heart.

As I grew older the things I cared
about grew fewer, but were more
important. So one day I undid the lock
and called the trash man. He took

I felt like the little donkey when
his burden is finally lifted. Things!
Burn them, burn them! Make a beautiful
fire! More room in your heart for love,
for the trees! For the birds who own

nothing–the reason they can fly.

Christmas time is often called the season of joy and goodwill.  As we prepare for a break from work and prepare to meet with friends and family and celebrate (or not) in ways that are meaningful to us sometimes our expectations and hopes are not met. This poem is a reminder to embrace those unexpected moments of joy, they are special and very much meant for you. 

JOY CHOSE YOU by Donna Asworth in Wild Hope


Joy does not arrive with a fanfare

on a red carpet strewn

with the flowers of a perfect life


joy sneaks in

as you pour a cup of coffee

watching the sun

hit your favourite tree

just right


and you usher joy away

because you are not ready for her

your house is not as it should be

for such a distinguished guest


but joy, you see

cares the thing for your messy home

or your bank balance

or your waistline


joy is supposed to slither through

the cracks of your imperfect life

 that's how joy works


you cannot truly invite her

you can only be ready

when she appears

and hug her with meaning

because in this very moment

joy chose you

Sometimes, breaking is a necessarily beautiful thing.

 I love this poem as sometimes the world and society can feel overwhelming and broken but this poem turns what broken is around from something that no longer works, or is damaged or unmendable to something profound, necessary, and beautiful. It is about the humbling process of slowly accepting what life has dealt us and making the most out of it—that while we mourn for our past, we look forward to the amazing possibility of who we still can be. It is not about What Never Was, but What Can Be. It is not an apology, but a promise.

From the book The Unmistakeable Possibility of Us 

What Must Break by R.C Perez


Silence, for what

needs to be said.


Glass ceilings, for what

cannot be contained.


The ground, for what shall

rise above it.


The dawn, for what comes 

after the dark.


Stigmas and cycles and chains, 

for what needs to end. 


Yourself, for what 

shall become of you after.


Sometimes things break

so light can enter,


so something can grow, 

so the old can usher in the new.

It is the start of a new semester and for many that signals a new beginning or even a fresh start.  You may be starting University as a new student or member of staff. This change may have taken you to a new city, country or continent.  You may need to study and submerse yourself in a language and culture different from your own. Alternatively, you may be returning from a placement, time away or absence. For the myriad of reasons, you arrive at the University of Sheffield, welcome!
Some of your future experiences may be challenging but also will have moments of joy and excitement as transition often relies on a leap of faith for yourself, loss and gain and venturing into the unknown.
This poem views the experience from those who are left behind, holding the hopes and the dreams of the person who is starting afresh. It is filled with the faith and love that whatever this new beginning my bring that you are able to be kind and compassionate to yourself, love the part of yourself that has brought about this new start. Recognise the difficult times as periods of growth and that with the closing of one chapter, the opening of this new chapter will bring possibilities not previously imagined.

Blessing for Peace  by  Christine Evangelou

“I hope you learn to love yourself,

Through a Godly storm,

Through the shimmers of love

That kissed your crown as you were born.

I hope you learn to love,

Everything that makes you whole,

The trickles of pain

That still echo through your veins,

And the purpose that kept you going,

Rebuilding you, time, and time again.

I hope you learn to love,

The truth of all you are,

Whether others accept it,

Or fear it from afar.

I hope you learn to love,

Everything that makes you, you,

Without diluting your presence,

Or losing your voice,

Just to please others,

As you walk so gently through.

I hope you learn to love,

Your fearless, fiery side,

The one that speaks so honestly

Without worry of reprise.

I hope you live a life,

That you so wonderfully deserve,

And that you bravely reinvent yourself,

As often as your soul thunders and stirs.

I hope that you learn to love,

Each finality and closed door,

So you can find a new beginning,

In sparkly showers of hope

As your wings electrify, taking flight to soar”

Christine Evangelou has other poems on her poetry site which talk about new beginnings.

If you experience homesickness or culture shock, this is a normal response to transition and change, there are some blogs on the blog site that may be helpful during this period.

and blubbering fountains.

Scented and powdered

she’s staging

a one-tree show

with hi-viz blossoms

and lip-gloss petals;

she’ll season the pavements

and polished stones

with something like snow.

The poet laureate, Simon Armitage, has written a new poem which pays homage to spring, in celebration of World Poetry Day.

Plum Tree Among the Skyscrapers is the first in a collection of poems inspired by blossom and commissioned by the National Trust. Its publication marks the beginning of the Trust’s annual blossom campaign, in which the charity will vow to bring blossom back to landscapes across the UK by planting 20m trees by 2030 to help tackle both the climate and nature crises.

 Armitage said: “The National Trust is one of the great British institutions, a guardian of our past, present and future. When I became poet laureate in 2019, I made the environment a cornerstone of my work and my activities, so to be working with the National Trust on a project that celebrates the annual renewal of the natural world was a perfect fit.

“For this first poem, I was particularly keen to examine how nature might flourish in our urban landscapes, and about the tenacity of trees to be able to adapt to the most unlikely places.

“There is both ecstasy and melancholy associated with blossom, in its coming and its going; blossom trees are powerful metaphors for our own existence, as well as important indicators of the health of the planet.”

Plum Tree Among the Skyscrapers by Simon Armitage

She’s travelled for years

through tangled forests

and formal gardens,

edged along hedgerows,

set up her stall

on tenanted farms

then moved on, restless,

empty handed sometimes,

sometimes with fruit

in her arms.

She’s hopscotched

through graveyards and parks,

settled down in allotments,

clung to a church roof

by a toe.

She’s pitched camp on verges

and hard shoulders,

stumbled on threadbare moors

above the tree-line

and slummed it on wasteland,

but dug in on steep hillsides

and rough ground.

She was Queen of the May

on a roundabout once

in a roundabout way.

She’s piggy-backed

across trading estates, hitched

in a mistle thrush beak,

drifted with thistledown.

She’s thumbed a lift into town.

Now here she is,

in a cracked slab

in a city square

in a square mile

mirrored by glass and steel,

dwarfed by money

and fancy talk.

Hand-me-down brush,

pre-loved broom,

to the paid-by-the-minute

suits and umbrellas

and lunchtime shoppers

she’s a poor Cinderella

rootling about

in a potting compost

of burger boxes

and popped poppers.

In that world,

orchard and orphan

are one and the same.

But she’s here to stay -

plum in the middle -

and today she’s fizzing

with light and colour,

outshining the smug sculptures

and blubbering fountains.

Scented and powdered

she’s staging

a one-tree show

with hi-viz blossoms

and lip-gloss petals;

she’ll season the pavements

and polished stones

with something like snow.

It is the start of a new year and I was reflecting on what I would like to focus on in 2023.
I am not a fan of New Year’s resolutions as I often fail to keep them so prefer a rather less failure proof and long-term focus. One of the areas I could definitely improve on is maintaining and nurturing my social connections. This poem, Stay written by Ullie-Kaye, a Canadian poet helped me reflect on the kind of friendships I have, have lost and I am trying to maintain or rekindle. It helped me think about the nature of friendships, their transience and fluidity. It captures the preciousness of these relationships that however short or slight, long or deep that these connections are important as quality friendships can help us to become better versions of ourselves.

Stay by Ullie-Kaye

Some friends will come and go.

Some friends will remain tethered to your

side when they need you the most

but wander on to other pastures

when life gets better. Some friends

will have an instant soul connection

with you over a like-minded endeavour,

or path, or passion. And you will

radiate over how beautiful resonance

 can be. Some lifelong friends will

never reach the depths of you  because

there is just too much of you to know.

And other friends will meet you for

only a fraction of the time and have you

Spilling it all freely. Whether messy,

magnificent, glorious or grim. And

some friends will stay through it all.

Through your mountains and valleys

and the breaths in between. They will

stay. But let me tell you this. Every one

of these loves are precious. You will

 give sometimes and grieve sometimes.

You will win and lose and find your way.

This is the essence of our human existence.

We know friendships are important and here is a link to an article which provides the science behind the “gut feeling” we get when we have (or lose) a special connection with a friend.

I have recently discovered poet called Nikita Gill. Nikita is a British-Indian poet, playwright, writer and illustrator based in the south England. She has written and curated seven volumes of poetry. Her poems to me beautifully encapsulate the human experience both joyous and tragic. Here are three of her poems.

The news:
everything is bad.

“Poets: okay, but
what if everything
is bad and we still
fall in love with
the moon and
learn something
from the flowers.”

A Lesson on Love

My dog and I do not speak the same language

Yet every day, she tells me:

I trust you to know when I need to go for a walk.

I will let you hold me when you need to

and I will ask for love when I need it.

On the days you are sick, I will lie beside you.

I will look for you in rooms when you are not here,

and I will greet you with so much joy

when I come home. 

I will guard you when you sleep.

I will wag my tail and let you know

That everything will be okay

On your bad days,

and I know that you will do 

The same on mine.

And from this I learn that my dog

and I actually do speak the same language.

After all, the universe is a kindly ancient thing.

It gave love as a mother tongue to every being.

When You Hate Yourself For 

Revisiting Old Wounds

You revisit old wounds for the same reason

Birds will come back to the places

their nests have been destroyed.

The mind walks into the same room

because it wants to know how to fix

those floorboards, paint the walls,

turn this into a more habitable place

If it tries something different from the last time.

This is survival.

This is learning how to live through pain

once the skeletons have decided to walk out

of the closet and refuse to go back in again.

Call it the worst story you have ever owned,

a car crash within your bones

that you cannot stop staring at.

But the only way to understand pain

is to look at it and feel it

without turning away.

There is no shame in this.

Eventually, it will scab over and heal.

For Black History month and I wanted to celebrate a poet who has contributed on many different levels to poetry and raising cultural awareness. 

 “Linton Kwesi Johnson’s impact on the cultural landscape over the last half-century has been colossal and multi-generational….. His political ferocity and his tireless scrutiny of history are truly Pinteresque, as is the humour which he pursues them”


“Linton Kwesi Johnson‘s body of work-the sheer length, breadth, depth, politics, performance, rhyme and reason of it-bears witness to a life time of lending lyrical from to a condition that Britain has proved unable or unwilling (or both) to name”

Gary Younge

“The wide appeal of this work seemed to be this coalition for fair play on the political level with an accurate rendition of the mood among young people on the psychological level”

Fred d’Aguir

Linton Kwesi Johnson can make uncomfortable listening for some but for me I have enjoyed listening to his music since the early 80’s. His uncompromising lyrics accompanied by reggae rhythms and a powerful bass line accompanied my student years and resurged again during lockdown where they took on a new life with the Black Lives Matters movement. His inspiration stems from his belief in socialism, equality and justice and his urban London experience and community based politics of radical black groups of the time. He writes in English language, seasoned with Jamaican creole.

Linton Kwesi Johnson appeared recently at an event held at Firth Court as part of the Off the Shelf Festival of Words literary festival.

I have chosen his opening poem from the performance. This was his first his published poem and is an anti-war poem, appearing in his recent book under Seventies Verse. It is dedicated to Leroy Harris, a black youth who was stabbed at a party in South London.

Five Nights of Bleeding


madness... madness…
madness tight on the heads of the rebels
the bitterness erupts like a hot-blast
                                                  broke glass

rituals of blood on the burning
served by a cruel-in fighting

five nights of horror an of bleeding
                                                broke glass

cold blades as sharp as the eyes of hate
an the stabbings 

it's war amongst the rebels
madness… madness… war


night number one was in brixton
soprano B sound system

 was a-beating out the rhythmn with a fire
coming doun his reggae-reggae wire
it was a soun shaking doun your spinal column
a bad music tearing up your flesh
an the rebels them start a fighting
the yout them jus turn wild, 

it's war amongst the rebels


night number two doun at shepherd's
right up railton road
It was a night name Friday 

when everyone was high on brew 

or drew a pound or two worth a kally
soun coming doun Neville king's music iron

the rhythm jus bubbling  an back-firing
raging an rising, then suddenly the music cut
steel blade drinking blood in darkness,

 it's war amongst the rebels
madness… madness… war


night number three, over the river
right outside the rainbow
inside james brown was screaming soul
outside the rebels were freezing cold
babylonian tyrants descended
bounced on the brothers who were bold
so with a flick

of the wrist,

 a jab an a stab
the song of blades was sounded
the bile of oppression was vomited
an two policemen wounded
righteous, righteous war.


night number four at a blues dance

                                         a blues dance
two rooms packed and the pressure pushin up
hot, hot heads
ritual of blood in a blues dance

                                             broke glass

splintering fire, axes, blades, brain- blast

rebellion rushing down the wrong road

storm blowing doun the wrong tree

an leroy bleeds near death on the fourth night

                                           in a blues dance

 on a black rebellious night 

it’s war among’ the rebels

madness… madness… war


night number five at the telegraph

vengeance walked through the doors

so slow

so smooth

so tight and ripe an smash!

broke glass,

a bottle finds a head

an the shell of the fire-hurt cracks

the victim feels fear

                   finds hands

                   holds knife

                   finds throat

o the stabbings an the bleeding an the blood

it’s war amongst the rebels

madness... madness… war

(for Leroy Harris, a victim of internecine violence) 

Published in his book of Selected Poems by Penguin books

I enjoy reading this poem as it reminds me that peace and stillness that can be found when connecting with nature. The poet describes how that tranquillity can be captured for perhaps only a few seconds as they connect with their senses and absorb the sights, sounds and smells that surround them and this give them a pause from their busy mind. They also recognise they are not their thoughts but find it difficult to disconnect from them. This seems a common issue in the present day. The external constant bombardment of information from multiple sources, which sometimes sets off an avalanche of thoughts within that often feels like an impossible situation from which to escape.

Finding ways to escape from the constant bombardment of thoughts through activities such as reading poetry, practicing mindfulness can help improve wellbeing. One of the easiest methods I often use when walking when I am trying to switch my brain off is called 54321.  I often use this when I am outside walking as a proactive attempt to ensure I have a break from my thoughts and tune into the peace that nature offers.

Moments of Freedom by Joanna Kay

And I stop

for a second, 

like that moment when I awake 

before my mind starts working. 

And I stop. 

I see 

I hear 

I smell 

I touch 

I feel 

I am. 

And it is just as it is 

for a second, 

and then 

well then I become my thoughts 

until I remember again 

to stop. 

Maybe the sound of the woodpecker, 

maybe to sight of the majestic Stag, 

maybe the smell of the cold, damp dew, 

maybe the feel of the wind on my face, 

reminds me to stop. 

Reminds me to return to that place, 

that place of stillness, 

where darkness doesn't exist, 

only light. 

Where freedom is a possibility 

for a split second, 

just being, 

just being, 

just being free, 

just being me.

This poem by the 13th-century Sufi mystic Jalaluddin Rumi (popularly known simply as Rumi) uses the metaphor of a guesthouse to describe life’s journey. Rumi’s poetry is sublime and eloquent, and it makes us appreciate the uncertainty of life and embrace mindful living. The poem reminds us to not resist our thoughts and feelings, but on the contrary, to welcome them as if they were, noble guests that we were eager to see.

These seemingly unwelcome guests in the guesthouse of your mind will scrub away at everything that is untrue or unhelpful, if you let them. And not to worry, being guests; they will eventually depart as well, acting as a cleansing balm for the soul.

I love this poem as it reinforces the message that feelings are neither good nor bad but they
are part of the human experience. Tolerating discomfort in any form can be challenging but
identifying what we need from ourselves, treating ourselves with kindness and compassion
(like the guests) and knowing that the discomfort, pain or grief will eventually pass. Once
the feelings have subsided, (the guests have departed) we can reflect on a greater

understanding of ourselves and learn and implement new wisdom and learning from our

The Guest House by Jalaluddin Rumi

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

This poem by Naomi Shihab at first appears to be sorrowful and focus on the unavoidable presence of sadness in human life. It talks about the fragility of the future, how this can dissolve in an instant, a clearly frightening notion. The poem continues to give examples of losses that a person might experience during their life in order to know what kindness really is. Experiencing those losses emphasises the potential harshness of life and acknowledges that sorrow, inhabits the opposite pole to kindness.
The importance of kindness in people’s lives is made explicit with the observation
“Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore”
This poem finishes on an optimistic note personifying kindness, relating it to simple everyday things and regardless of its role at any given moment; kindness is conveyed as the perfect companion.  Ultimately the poem’s message is that is all of humanity is worthy of respect, deserving of consideration, and in need of kindness.

Kindness by Naomi Shihab Nye -

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to gaze at bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.

Once again, I am drawn to the healing power of nature, which is woven through this poem. “Geese” powerfully acknowledges the innate human struggle that many of us experience in today’s chaotic world. Am I enough? What is the point of it all? Am I doing the right thing? What does the future hold? These worries can become overwhelming and conjure up feelings of despair and loneliness. Mary Oliver’s poem shares the wisdom to be free of these burdens by turning to nature. When we look to nature and live like wild the geese, never questioning our belonging and value in this world, we will seek what we are looking for.

Wild Geese by Mary Oliver
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting–
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

I chose this poem as it was one that I found when searching for poems to reflect on during these difficult times. As we continue to live through and witness extremely upsetting and challenging events, sometimes there does not seem any suitable antidotes and we are often left feeling helpless and hopeless.  This poem, I worried  by Mary Oliver taps into the response to difficult events or everyday life and that finding joy in the small things can sometimes be an uplifting response. I certainly am trying to take an uplifting song in my head with me rather than my worries.

I Worried by Mary Oliver

I worried a lot. Will the garden grow, will the rivers
flow in the right direction, will the earth turn
as it was taught, and if not how shall
I correct it?

Was I right, was I wrong, will I be forgiven,
can I do better?

Will I ever be able to sing, even the sparrows
can do it and I am, well,

Is my eyesight fading or am I just imagining it,
am I going to get rheumatism,
lockjaw, dementia?

Finally I saw that worrying had come to nothing.
And gave it up. And took my old body
and went out into the morning,
and sang.

I've chosen this poem by Sheenagh Pugh as it reflects the very common worry that many of us have - which is fear of the unknown and difficulty managing uncertainty. It's a reminder that although life is full of unknowns it is also a wonderful thing to have a life full of different possibilities and that sometimes, not knowing how things will play out can really serve us well.

What If This Road

By Sheenagh Pugh

What if this road, that has held no surprises

these many years, decided not to go

home after all; what if it could turn 

left or right with no more ado

than a kite-tail? What if its tarry skin

were like a long, supple bolt of cloth, 

that is shaken and rolled out, and takes

a new shape from the contours beneath?

And if it chose to lay itself down

in a new way; around a blind corner, 

across hills you must climb without knowing

what's on the other side; who would not hanker

to be going, at all risks? Who wants to know

 a story's end, or where a road will go?

This month’s poem is from the latest collection Sanctuaries of Invention by Trinidadian writer Jennifer Rahim, recently published in the UK.
It seems to have been a long and problematic year and winter is now closing in which can be a difficult time for many. Creating a special place in our hearts for our home country, city or significant and meaningful place may be possible and can be conjured through the senses by a taste, smell, image or music and can transport us back there through the wonder of imaginations. However far we may travel from these beloved places we can take them with us and use these memories to sustain ourselves through the dark winter months.

Wherever I Go …by Jennifer Rahim

There will be an island,
and an ocean will be
what rings me.

We are to the very end
a naming not our own,
though we leave to find

what is left behind
and that holds us,
more than we know,

like a small beach
has the ear of the great sea

and a trillion ebbs
are never without returns.

This flow is the staying,
though we depart.

An oyster takes a single grain
and stores it in her heart’s muscle

like a lover’s memento;
she never lets us go …

Autumn this year, despite the continuing uncertainty and awfulness of the pandemic and the deep worry that climate change can evoke, has been colourful, gentle and mild.
There are so many poems dedicated to Autumn it is hard to choose and that might be a reflection of how the season plays on all of the senses as well as the feelings that are evoked as another year comes to a close.
Autumn can inspire feelings of loneliness and sorrow, though it can also help us to feel the sacredness of sharing that solitude with each other. It shows the beauty of release, acting as a catalyst to our own introspective nature.
Here are two short poems; Winds of Autumn by Saiygo reflects the impact this season can have on the senses and Nothing Gold Can Stay by Robert Frost the transient nature of the seasons and however beautiful or stark it may for a time it will inevitably change.

Winds of Autumn, by Saigyo

Even in a person

most times indifferent

to things around him

they waken feelings

the first winds of autumn. 

Nothing Gold Can Stay by Robert Frost

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay. 

It’s National Poetry Day Today!
National Poetry Day is the annual mass celebration on the first Thursday of October that encourages all to enjoy, discover and share poetry. This year, National Poetry Day takes place on 7 October 2021, and the theme is Choice.
National Poetry Day generates an explosion of activity nationwide, thousands of amazing events across the UK – on doorsteps and at kitchen tables, in gardens and streets, in schools, libraries and public spaces both online and offline – all celebrating poetry’s power to bring people together. 
The Day starts conversations, it encourages love of language – and best of all, it’s open to absolutely everyone to join in, quietly or noisily in rewarding and enjoyable ways. As the artform’s most visible moment, it showcases the ways in which poetry adds value to society.
The poem I have chosen to share is by the current Sheffield Poet Laureate, Warda Yassin called Weston Park

Weston Park

by Warda Yassin

l found the photograph in the brown suitcase with the clipped passports,
grandfather’s cassettes and those old red NHS logbooks.

Hooyo is wearing an oversized, white T-shirt and her sinewy curls
scamper across her shoulder blades, jet black eyes dare the moon.

Now, she will tell me these were unruly days of impromptu photo shoots,
ankle deep in primroses, the loneliness of motherhood in Edward Street flats.

Aragsan’s henna buzz-cut is the focus, turning everything bokeh,
even then ironclad, her smile reminding you why she married last.

One day, she will succumb to the community and gift her daughter with all
the ways to remain kind and good and modest. Then there’s Abdisalam

who’s only Abdi here. His face framed by a cloud of afro, ebony skin stark
against a sanguine smile. Soon, he will learn to answer to a half-name

as he juggles a half life – weekdays spent scolding sons for eyebrow slits
and fades; those Sundays longing to cut across his boyhood mountains.

© Warda Yassin

Warda Yassin

Warda Yassin is a British Somali poet and teacher based in Sheffield . Her debut pamphlet Tea With Cardamom (Smith|Doorstop) won the 2018 New Poets Prize. She won the 2020 Womens Poets’ Prize and is the current Sheffield Poet Laureate. Twitter @warda_ahy

To find out more and read, share and enjoy some of the selected poems follow the link

For many of us, rather than the end of summer, autumn signifies a new beginning; a return to a new school year, job or a new place to live, work or study or find refuge.

 I chose this poem as I hoped it would reflect this time of change which can conjure a range of different emotions, some positive such as excitement and anticipation but also uncertainty and doubt or relief. Inevitably this will be a time for reflection and adaptation and letting go.

Captured beautifully in the blog post 5 poems to inspire new beginnings the author of the blog The Motivation Angel, Christine Evangelou writes

“It is a chance for an entirely new cycle to begin in our lives- a beautiful time to inspire new beginnings.

Sometimes we hold on too tightly to what we know and what we have, and we lose sight of all that could possibly be. We drown out our desire in favour of comfort, and we dull the voice of our heart as fear settles into our body. But there is nothing more beautiful than a new beginning. It offers fresh hope and a sparkling new perspective on life.

We all deserve the beauty of a new beginning. We all deserve to forgive our past mistakes so that we can move forward once more. Letting go is a deep, misty and winding road of inner reflection. It is a brave journey, so appreciate and celebrate each small, tentative step you take forward.

Before you let go, you must allow yourself to let in. The sadness, the loss, the heartache. Keep what you need to move forward and softly kiss farewell to the rest. Make sure that you are healed and ready for something more. Something that breathes fresh life into your bones, sings a song to your soul, and blasts through the dark spaces to shine some newness back into your life.”

For A New Beginning | John O’Donohue- To Bless the Space Between Us

“In out-of-the-way places of the heart,
Where your thoughts never think to wander,
This beginning has been quietly forming,
Waiting until you were ready to emerge.

For a long time it has watched your desire,
Feeling the emptiness growing inside you,
Noticing how you willed yourself on,
Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.

It watched you play with the seduction of safety
And the gray promises that sameness whispered,
Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent,
Wondered would you always live like this.

Then the delight, when your courage kindled,
And out you stepped onto new ground,
Your eyes young again with energy and dream,
A path of plenitude opening before you.

Though your destination is not yet clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is at one with your life’s desire.

Awaken your spirit to adventure;
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,
For your soul senses the world that awaits you”

For more poems to inspire

I chose this poem because it reminds me that success comes in different forms and we all get to decide what success means to us. I think it's really easy to get swept away with the material things in life, and it feels important to recognise the power of experiences with loved ones.

'Looking Back'

Edgar A Guest

I might have been rich if I'd wanted the gold
instead of the friendships I've made.
I might have had fame if I'd sought for renown
in the hours when I purposely played.
Now I'm standing to-day on the far edge of life,
and I'm just looking backward to see
What I've done with the years and the days that were mine,
and all that has happened to me.

I haven't built much of a fortune to leave
to those who shall carry my name,
And nothing I've done shall entitle me now
to a place on the tablets of fame.
But I've loved the great sky and its spaces of blue;
I've lived with the birds and the trees;
I've turned from the splendor of silver and gold
to share in such pleasures as these.

I've given my time to the children who came;
together we've romped and we've played,
And I wouldn't exchange the glad hours spent
with them for the money that I might have made.
I chose to be known and be loved by the few,
and was deaf to the plaudits of men;
And I'd make the same choice should the chance
come to me to live my life over again.

I've lived with my friends and I've shared in their joys,
known sorrow with all of its tears;
I have harvested much from my acres of life,
though some say I've squandered my years.
For much that is fine has been mine to enjoy,
and I think I have lived to my best,
And I have no regret, as I'm nearing the end,
for the gold that I might have possessed.

Many people find using meditation or mindfulness will to help reduce stress. This is an ancient practice with its origins in Buddhist and other eastern traditions. If meditation or mindfulness does not work for you, immersing yourself in a short contemplative poem can be effective as the words and images they evoke can help you to focus and clear your mind of every other thought. This poem supplied by Jayne Tulip is a perfect example of this.

We invite you to empty your mind of other thoughts by absorbing yourself in the words, bringing alive the images in your imagination, taking yourself into the moment shared by the poet. 

This poem and other poems carefully picked to reduce stress can be found in the book “Stressed Unstressed”

Classic poems to ease the Mind

Published by William Collins 2016

The Lake Isle of Innisfree


I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,

And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;

Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,

And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,

Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;

There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,

And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day

I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;

While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,

I hear it in the deep heart’s core.

 I have chosen this poem by Wendell Berry as it reminds me that the simplicity of nature can bring about a sense of calm and tranquility and help me gain perspective when I may be experiencing difficulty in my own life. By being an observer of nature going about it's business, shows me how to be peaceful within myself. I am a huge fan of spending time outdoors and connecting with nature and feel this poem sums up the power of what nature can do for us. It also feels extremely relevant as this week is mental health awareness week - and the theme is connecting with nature.

The Peace of Wild Things

Written by Wendell Berry

When despair for the world grows in me

and I wake in the night at the least sound

in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,

I go and lie down where the wood drake

rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.

I come into the peace of wild things

who do not tax their lives with forethought

of grief. I come into the presence of still water.

And I feel above me the day-blind stars

waiting with their light. For a time

I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

I chose this poem as during this time of change and uncertainty it offers some reassurance that things will get better. Lockdown restrictions are lifting; there might be feelings of anxiety around this change, and maybe the expectation that we should be happy. This poem offers reassurance and does not pretend that life is all fun or always perfect. There is also an acceptance that there is not always a need to dwell on the more painful aspects of life and sadness. There will be moments where we can look at life and its beauty and be reassured that someday and at some time things will be or feel all right.

Everything is Going To Be All Right

 by Derek Mahon

How should I not be glad to contemplate

the clouds clearing beyond the dormer window

and a high tide reflected on the ceiling?

There will be dying, there will be dying,

but there is no need to go into that.

The poems flow from the hand unbidden

and the hidden source is the watchful heart;

the sun rises in spite of everything

and the far cities are beautiful and bright.

I lie here in a riot of sunlight

watching the day break and the clouds flying.

Everything is going to be all right.

This poem was given to me years ago when I was going through a bereavement. Throughout that time I found it such a comfort to have this poem close by and it helped to remind myself that grief and loss isn’t something we just “get over”. But is more something that with time, can find its place in our lives and can change; maybe sometimes being in the foreground and other times being in the background. I know this year has been particularly difficult for everyone. Many of us have experienced bereavements or really felt the loss of social contact that has come from the lockdowns and restrictions. Over the years I have turned to this poem when I have experienced any kind of loss and it’s always provided the comfort that I have needed in those moments.

The Cure - By Albert Huffstickler 

We think we get over things. 

We don’t get over things.

Or say, we get over the measles

but not a broken heart. 

We need to make that distinction. 

The things that become part of our experience 

never become less a part of our experience. 

How can I say it? 

The way to “get over” a life is to die. 

Short of that, you move with it, 

let the pain be pain, 

not in the hope that it will vanish, 

but in the faith that it will fit in, 

find its place in the shape of things

and be then not any less pain but true to form. 

Because anything natural has an inherent shape 

and will flow towards it. 

And a life is as natural as a leaf.

That’s what we’re looking for:

not the end of a thing but the shape of it.

Wisdom is seeing the shape of your life

without obliterating, or getting over, a single 

instant of it. 

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