Through the Eyes of a Poet series #5
Through the Eyes of a Poet series by Christina M. Ward
Featured Poet: Annie Bell
Objective: To encourage people to broaden their reading interests through poetry, support the poetry community, and introduce you to poets and their personal stories.
For updates on this series: Join this Author Newsletter.
Writing poetry started as a way to work through my feelings. Writing poetry became my way to express myself. Writing poetry gave a voice to parts of me that I had kept silent for a long time. Writing poetry gave a voice to my soul, my heart and my body.Annie Bell
It took a lifetime of swallowed feelings, a few unhealthy and impactful relationships, and a therapy process called Somatic Therapy for Annie Bell to find herself as a poet. Perhaps you can relate to the thin veil between emotion and the surface of poetry? Annie found this thermocline and plunged through it with her heart in her hands.
It wasn’t easy. But in the words of this new poet: “I became a poet when I let myself feel again. As soon as I stopped discounting my feelings, becoming a poet was inevitable.”
The story behind one of her poems that is especially personal and meaningful demonstrates how Annie’s journey through emotional healing has led her to the therapeutic world of poetry. Listen to her words on this very special poem:
My poem Follow Your Feelings is very special to me. The very first line of this poem that I ever wrote was, ‘Follow your feelings to the place inside where you trust yourself and the truth resides.’ But, as you will find when you read the poem, this is not the first line of the poem. Each stanza of this poem was actually written weeks apart from one another. Each stanza is a realization that I had independent of one another.
Follow your feelings to the place insidefrom Follow Your Feelings, by Annie Bell
Where you trust yourself and the truth resides.
The first line I wrote was a realization that if I pay attention to my feelings—I can more clearly see the truth of a situation. My brain tends to rationalize things, but my feelings are straight forward. For example, looking back at that engagement that I called off: when he proposed I remember all the feelings in my body screaming, ‘No!’ I got a pit in my stomach, I got short of breath, my throat tightened up, I started sweating, my legs wanted to run.
On the other hand, my mind rationalized, ‘While I never had a desire to marry him, and we sure do have our problems, if he cares enough about me to propose to me, I believe we can resolve our problems and live a happy life.’ After analyzing many more past situations and comparing how my body felt and what my brain rationalized to the actual outcome of the situation, I learned to trust my feelings and to follow them to the truth to which they are always trying to lead me.
Although each stanza of this poem was an independent realization, I was tickled to discover that I could piece them together like a puzzle to create one very wise poem. 😊
To this day, this poem serves as a mantra of sorts for myself. I frequently find myself repeating each of these stanzas to myself at different times when I need to be reminded of the particular lesson/wisdom in each one.
Annie is a fairly new poet, having written poetry for the last two years. She publishes her work primarily on Medium.com. I welcome you to enjoy this brief interview with Annie as she shares with us her thoughts on her poetry, the poetic process, and the genre of poetry, in general. You will find links to follow her work at the bottom of this blog post.
What is your greatest hope with regards to your poetry?
Before I was able to express myself through poetry, I really relied on relating to other people’s words/feelings in books and music lyrics. I wanted to start sharing my poetry so that those who can relate to it, can be helped by it. Back when I was exclusively sharing poetry on my Instagram account, my Instagram bio used to read, “Dark and light, the contrast of life. I write what I feel. I want to be real. If you feel it too, my words may connect with you.” That about sums it up!
Does your poetry have a message or a theme that you want to portray to the world?
So far my poetry has consistently hit one of the following themes/messages: freedom, empowerment, overcoming, healing, growth, self-discovery, self-love, having a voice, being yourself, creativity, FEELING, and finally a bit of spiritual awakening.
How do your poems come to you? And how do you take them from the initial inspiration to the final poem? Tell me about your writing process.
My poems usually come to me in just one phrase that kind of describes the essence of the poem. I could be driving, walking, talking with someone, listening to a podcast, or working, and a thought or feeling will just pop into my head or come out of my mouth that makes me say to myself, “There is a poem there!” I have a note app on my phone where I quickly jot down the sentence or two of my idea and then later on, when I have the time and focus to work on the poem, it comes to life.
For example, the poem I Am Here developed because I wanted to move, but I felt totally stuck and I was making myself miserable with my thoughts about trying to figure out how to move and where to move. I finally just told myself, I AM HERE—and an instant later, I knew I would write a poem about it.
Another example is my poem, The Remarkable. I was on a walk talking with a friend on the phone. We were talking about how when one feels sad or depressed it is so hard to feel inspired to take action in life. I think I said something to her like, “Sometimes everything inside is just so damp and dark and heavy that you can’t start a fire even if there is a spark.” And then I said out loud to her, “There is a poem there!” I made a note in my phone. We finished our long conversation and days later I made the time to write the poem.
However, I will admit that some of my poems come to life by trying to resolve some long standing issues. Sometimes I will sit down with an idea in my mind or a feeling in my soul that I am going to set out to do some self-discovery. For example, when I wrote A Cage of My Own Making, I sat down in front of my computer knowing that I had something to express, but not knowing what it was. I literally wrote (in a rather snarky way), “Ok, so what does that wise voice inside have to say today?” Then, the poem spilled out. Thanks to this poem, I frequently remind myself, if I am feeling trapped…I am probably stuck in a cage of my own making, and I am also the key to my own freedom.
One last question, what would you say to readers who do not normally read poetry to encourage them to read the genre?
To encourage readers to check out the genre of poetry, I am going to go out on a limb for them–I am going to risk my credibility for them.
I confess, I frequently read poetry and think to myself, “What? I don’t get it.” I confess, I frequently read poetry and think to myself, “Well, I felt nothing while reading that.” I confess, I frequently read poetry and think, “That was weird.”
BUT, I also frequently read poetry and feel as though my heart is pounding out of my chest.
I frequently read poetry and laugh out loud at its cleverness. I frequently read poetry and find myself releasing tears of joy, tears of anger, and tears of sadness. I frequently read poetry and feel the author’s soul speaking with mine. I frequently read poetry and am in awe of the imagery and beautifully crafted rhyme and rhythm. I frequently read poetry that says things that cannot be said any other way.
The thing I have discovered about poetry, is that if you can relate to it, it speaks to you. I know for a fact that all those poems I read but was not impressed by, will be read by hundreds of people who are utterly in love with it. We are all different people, with different experiences, and poems will speak to each of us differently.
So, read poetry—it may validate your feelings, it may teach you something, it may warm your heart, it may bring a smile to your face, or it may change your life.
Thank you so much Annie, for sharing a bit of your personal journey with us and sharing with us about your poetry. I am happy you have been able to work through the clutter of emotional disarray and find your way to the poetry that lives there. There are so many who can be inspired by your work.
If you would like to follow Annie’s journey, read her work, and become a fan, you can find her on the following platforms:
May your love grow like sunflowers
Vast and eager
Basking in the warm light of your joy
May your love grow like pine
Evergreen and unrefined
Flourishing amidst the bleak cold
May your love grow like daisies
wild and bold…
How Love Grows
by Annie Bell
Thank you for reading about this featured poet. I invite you to include poetry in your reading and give this genre a chance to enrich your life. I will be featuring poets on my blog (Author Website), in my newsletter (Author Newsletter), and on my Medium platform (Fiddleheads & Floss Poetry). I welcome you to read about these poets, support them, and perhaps find a poet that brings something very meaningful to your life.