Poets who wrote about depression

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poets who wrote about depression

Dr. Birds Advice for Sad Poets by Evan Roskos

“I hate myself but I love Walt Whitman, the kook. Always positive. I need to be more positive, so I wake myself up every morning with a song of myself.”

Sixteen-year-old James Whitman has been yawping (à la Whitman) at his abusive father ever since he kicked his beloved older sister, Jorie, out of the house. James’s painful struggle with anxiety and depression—along with his ongoing quest to understand what led to his self-destructive sister’s exile—make for a heart-rending read, but his wild, exuberant Whitmanization of the world and keen sense of humor keep this emotionally charged debut novel buoyant.
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Sabrina Benaim - "Explaining My Depression to My Mother"

Depression has a different quality than the normal range of sadness that you may feel throughout the day. When you are depressed you do not feel like being with anybody.
Evan Roskos


Even the briefest survey of the most innovative minds in literature will reveal that mental illness often goes hand in hand with creative expression. Creativity is often the outlet through which artists expel the truths of their deepest sentiments; madness in some cases seems to be the catalyst that drives and inspires some artists to create in the first place. To the creative and sensitive mind, the highs and lows of life certainly inspire the need to render the paradigm of human experience in all of its extremes. Perhaps artistic expression is the only field in which one can actually achieve more success from being mentally unsound than stable. But is there a link between mental illness and a greater creative ability? Rarely, however, were their personal lives free of conflict and rarer still do the greatest literary masterpieces deal outside of the most torturous or heartfelt experiences humans can undergo; rarely is creative expression free of tension.

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Psychologists are still chewing on the question of whether there's actually a relationship between creativity and depression — but historically, we've long believed that there's a link between being artistically gifted and possessing certain pathological personality traits. It's a basic part of our ideas about creativity, probably dating right back to the Greeks, who thought inspiration was a kind of divine madness , furor poeticus, sent by the gods. When people hear that you want to be a famous writer and ask "Are you crazy? Dismal as this idea is, it does mean that some of history's most celebrated and talented writers have put their legendary eloquence to work describing the experience of depression. And it's not all posturing and pretending to be mournful for show — there's a real tradition of raw, honest descriptions of depression throughout artistic history. In some literary cultures, it seems more prominent than others: Japanese poetry and Russian literature in particular are known for discussions of grief and sadness.

One of the vital parts of putting an anthology together is the research. Depression poems offer up such a range of experiences and really put the period at the end of the statement that no single experience can get it right or accurately depict what a mental illness looks or feels like. Find below a wide range of depression poems, from contemporary pieces to classics from well-known poets. Included are full poems, video performances, poets who are making a name for themselves, and much more. Knowing these depression poems will dig into the realities of life with mental illness, proceed with caution. It deals with some of the complex feelings I grappled with because of my depression, fears and anxiety.

5 thoughts on “Dr. Birds Advice for Sad Poets by Evan Roskos

  1. I struggle with depression myself, and as a writer and (former) poet, I find myself drawn to poetry to find solace, to find comfort, to find solidarity.

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