From Our Teen Readers
February 22, 2015 10:15 pm

The day my life changed, I was feeling pretty down and out. I had just failed a physics test, which I had studied very hard for, and my best friend had left the school for another state. Holding back tears, I entered my English class, and sat at the back, trying to keep the smile on my face. Written on the white board was the poem “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost.

At first, I didn’t think much of it — but it was the first poem that made a profound impact on my teenage life. It was a confusing and rough time for me. I was nearing the end of my schooling years and it seemed everywhere I turned, people were screaming questions at me: “So what do you want to do in the future?”

“Can you finish this maths assignment by tomorrow?”

“What university are you attending?”

“When are you getting a boyfriend?”

These questions were the catalyst to my stresses. The last thing I wanted to do was write an essay on literary techniques legendary poets had used. However, failure was not an option so I sat down and read poetry, and from that moment, a whole new world opened. It was like an epiphany; I was awakened to things that I had never thought about and it has made me a better person.

Now, I’ve experienced the true twists and turns poetry can encompass, and it’s made me a less stressed person and changed the way I think about life. Here’s how it could change your life for the better, too:

Poetry is a form of calm meditation — even during a time where everything is happening so fast.

There is a certain tranquillity that washes over your soul when you read or write a profound poem. Being a teenager is demanding. You’re expected to make a thousand decisions and each and every one needs so much thought and attention. Poetry can be the peace you need. Sitting alone in a quiet room, writing or reading poetry, can take you to another place and relieve your daily stresses. It can help you evaluate your life and how you want to live it. Finding and expressing emotion in a productive way allows you to continue your life in a calm manner, without always feeling anger and confusion.

Poems for calm meditation: “The Road Not Taken,” Robert Frost; “I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud,” William Wordsworth

There are no rules with poetry.

At school, home or wherever you are, you are constantly following rules. The thing about poetry is, there are no rules; you can read and write whatever you please. It is your choice and no one can control your decision. Unlike essays and school assignments that have a set structure, poetry is merely a flow of words. Having this choice gives you a certain independence that is hard to find during our teenage years. Parents, caregivers or teachers cannot judge you by what poetry you read or write, because it is your emotions you are conveying. You can’t ever fail with poetry.

Rule-breaking poems: “i carry your heart with me,” e.e. cummings; “Fern Hill,” Dylan Thomas

It has the power to make you a better person.

Poetry can make you a more spirited person. Accepting yourself and understanding other human conditions helps your realize of the importance of love and kindness in general. The extraordinary ways words can be placed in such short intervals creates poignant imagery that can help you process difficult life moments. Poetry can free your mind and give you new perspective.

Poems that can make you a better person: “Phenomenal Women,” Maya Angelou; “If,” Rudyard Kipling

It changes the way you see the world.

Poetry opens your eyes and gives you a better understanding of life. Poetry is a friend to everyone. It exists to communicate experiences, from love to loss to friendship and more — it deepens your senses. It inspires you to view the world in different light, whether it is dark or bright, it involves your imagination and emotions. It can also push you to be better, to accomplish your dreams and be kind day-to-day.

Poems that will change your perspective: “Stop All The Clocks,” W.H. Auden; “As I Grew Older,” Langsten Hughes

Before I discovered poetry, I was a very negative and hateful person. I saw the bad in every situation and I let my anger get the best of me. Now that I carry my poetry book and notebook with me everywhere I go, whenever I am stressed or in doubt, poetry clears my mind. It’s positive impact on my life extends beyond my emotions. I am getting better grades, and now I can freely evaluate my life and my choices for the future. I want to study creative writing and poetry at my local university when I graduate. Poetry pulled me through my darkest teenage times.

Clare O’Mahoney is a 16-year-old from Adelaide, a city Down Under. A lover of literature and pizza, she hopes to one day write a poetry book that will spark fires within readers minds. When she isn’t writing, she is either Irish dancing around the city streets or listening to The Smiths. You can see more of her writings at her Tumblr.

(Image via Shutterstock.)

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