Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Poetically Speaking makes mental health an accessible art

Courtesy of the University of Alabama

On Tuesday, Nov. 7, the Counseling Center and creative writing program held their first Poetically Speaking event in Gorgas Library.  

The event was held to help create a community for mental health issues and to show that writing is a valuable therapeutic tool. The focuses of the event were mental health and overcoming adversity.

Attendees were treated with doughnuts and other refreshments, listened to poetry, and wrote their own. Afterward, they were given the option to share what they created.

Event organizer and Counseling Center staff therapist Fayth Hope also holds Poetically Speaking in Birmingham and ran the same event for the University.

When planning the event, Hope sought to create an environment where people felt safe and encouraged to write and share their struggles and voices.  

 “I felt that it would be a cool thing for us to be able to process different issues through a creative means,” Hope said. “It’s a communal atmosphere. We’re encouraging each other and cheering each other on.”

That was certainly the case on Tuesday. Even Hope felt surprised by the inclusive atmosphere. “It was really refreshing seeing people from all sorts of backgrounds and experiences, gender identities, [and] sexual identities,” she said.

While seeking to organize Poetically Speaking at the University, Hope reached out to the associate director of the creative writing program, Paul Albano, who quickly jumped into action to make it a reality. Albano also saw the opportunities to address shared mental health issues. 

Albano said that attendees will “get the chance to write something on the spot to explore [their] emotional and mental state, and then share it with people.”

He also said that the event is “a fun way to build bridges with people who are navigating similar stressors and anxieties, especially this time of year.”

The event was certainly that. Students and poets alike shared their work and uplifted one another.  

During the event, students listened to some of the works of a local poet, Derrick Crummie, whom Hope had met years before. 

“I remembered his charisma, style, vibe, and swag,” she said. “It really stood out to me.” 

Crummie both recited his work and gave students a prompt by which to craft their poems. One attendee, Brooke Gaines, a computer science major, thought that Crummie’s style was noteworthy.  

“I was really amazed,” she said. “He used a lot of great metaphors and wordplay. I mean, it was cold.”

Gaines also enjoyed the event as a whole, as it created a space for people to freely express themselves.  

“I think that everybody needs somewhere they can just be their authentic selves,” Gaines said. “And what better way to do that than in a community of other students? It just makes you not feel like a blank sheet.”

Nov. 7 was Poetically Speaking’s first and only event this semester, but Hope wants to hold several events in the spring.

“I feel like the work we’re doing is much needed and there’s a lot of healing that needs to be done,” Hope said. “Even if it’s for two hours, we need some type of peace.” 

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