Photo of whale jumping from water by By © Jérémie Silvestro / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0

Finding Poetic Emotions


By Kimberly Burnham

Poetry can help us reflect on and integrate our emotional lives.

A recent study in Nursing Education Today noted, “Poetry writing helps students to develop writing craft and reflective skills. It encourages students to articulate often complex emotions associated with their professional worlds, thereby providing invaluable insights into the everyday lives of healthcare workers.”  And later, “‘Poetry in motion’ a place in the classroom: Using poetry to develop writing confidence and reflective skills.” 

Think about the last time you went to the doctor or some other kind of healthcare professional. Can you imagine them writing poetry? Do you think it might make them a better practitioner?

And then think about your own work or professional life, does poetry play a part in how you understand your work and emotions?

Expanding our language and ability to express our emotions can help us with emotional balance. One way to expand our emotional intelligence and capacity is to look at the way people express emotions in other languages.

Good Belly Angry Liver

In Jalkunan
an African language of Burkina Faso
“bɔ́ʔɔ̄ⁿ” means liver
“bɔ́ʔɔ̄ⁿ làʔàní”
means angry
literally liver gets up
“kɔ́yí jà á-yà” is happy
literally belly become good

What would it feel like to light up our liver and have a good belly laugh?

Emotional Healing Whales

Whales are commonly associated with emotions
in Makah a Native American language
of Washington's Olympic Peninsula
whales can speak to us of inner truth and creativity
wisdom holder totems
ripe with physical health
emotional healing and rebirth
a keeper of history
cognizant of the importance of family and community
peaceful strength and communication
comes when we see whales
and recognize their strengths in ourselves

Have you ever experienced the thrill of a sudden breach of a whale nearby or recognized these strengths in yourself?

Thinking and Feeling Joy

In Kayan or Kayan-Murik-Modang
a language of Oceania of Sarawak and Kalimantan
"dalem" is the way we say peaceful
deep inside, thoughtful, understanding
intelligent, wise and sensible
one word to describe many ways to think and be
In Proto-Malayo-Polynesian from whence came Kayan
"dalem" means insides or area within
the inner part of something
between, below, under, deep
this one word that means both mind and feelings
describes the liver
Tracing the history
trying to find the origin
tells us somewhere along the way
we started to focus more on thinking and being sensible
than feeling joy
or perhaps what the journey is saying
is only when we are thoughtful and wise
can we truly feel
deep inside

How would you describe what is going on deep inside of you?

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