A Series of Poetic Remedies: An Introduction

But those who believe that flowers grow in vases don’t understand anything about literature. The library has now become her first-aid kit... the medicine that helped her recover her smile when she thought she’d lost it forever.
— Antonio Iturbe

When Antonio Irtube says that those who believe that flowers grow in vases don’t understand anything about literature, he uses a literary technique familiar to most; a metaphor.

The term metaphor, defined as “a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable”, derives from the greek verb metaphora ‘to transfer’. It is literally a transfer of meaning. Quite fittingly, I find it also creates a ‘transfer’ on a much more personal level too.

It is through metaphors, similes and analogies that we often find ourselves expressing our innermost thoughts and feelings, through imagery that we begin to understand the complexities and oddities that is the human condition. Through the action of reading, we often experience a personal ‘transfer’ of energy on many levels; whether it’s through the process of empathizing with a character, the catharsis which comes with that association, and a subsequent general release of emotion.

Reading, can quite literally be a form of therapy.

Bibliotherapy.

Stemming from the greek words ‘Βιβλίο’ (book) and ‘θεραπεία’ (therapy), bibliotherapy has been argued by some to be an effective treatment for mental illness. It is capable of changing one’s behavioural patterns and relieving emotional distress, based upon principles of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). It helps develop a problem solving approach to life and all the challenges it throws at you, as well an enhanced insight into your emotions and that of those around you.

Looking at the quote at the top of this page we see that flowers can be grown anywhere, and literature helps us to understand this. Flowers can grow on the fields of devastating battles, national or personal. They can grow along the shores of a forgotten isle. They can grow in any ordinary four foot-square garden. Not just in vases. They allow for growth and hope and can be found anywhere if you adopt the right mindset.

Reading can inspire us and lift us up at the darkest of times. It can calm us at the most turbulent of moments. It can enrage us when we need to be angry. It can provide us with the most acute of insights as if staring at our own reflection in clear water.

So rambles aside, here is my introduction to ‘A Series of Poetic Remedies’.

Each week I aim to share a poem or a quote with you all on here which will touch upon a different theme, accompanied by an analysis and related artwork. It could be about mental health, self-love, personal experiences. It could be about anything. But I need your help! I’m looking for people to submit poetry (it could be your own, or the work of someone you admire), co-curators or just literature enthusiasts who are willing to leave the odd comment and start a discussion.

I hope to create a little support group where people can share their stories and voices, and even if only one person stumbles upon the project and it helps their day, that’s enough!

Have an idea? Let’s talk about it!

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Ffion Snaith