The Healing Power of Poetry by Andrew Coons

I spoke with Andrew Coons on Books and Brews this past Sunday.  I posted several days ago about the program which can be heard HERE.  Today, Andrew talks more about the healing power of poetry.

As I sit down to write this article for Books & Brews I realize I have the advantage of having pre-recorded my episode with Laura and Michael. It was a wonderful discussion that I thoroughly enjoyed. One of the many things we talked about was the healing power of poetry. I want to expand on my thoughts on this a little further.

Andrew Coons, poetry, Psalms, healing power of poetry
My first exposure to poetry as a child was the Psalms. At that time I didn’t understand how something that didn’t rhyme was considered poetry but very quickly I began to recognize the beauty of the language and repetition that is used throughout those passages. Both from a spiritual and literary standpoint the Psalms remain a peaceful and healing place for me to turn to when things are less than peaceful. The healing power of literature and especially poetry has been a theme throughout my life and my writing.

My writing usually tends to fall into one of two categories. Either it’s dark and introspective or quietly wistful. These two things tend to sum up not just my personality but also where I often find myself mentally in different stages of life. Battling depression, grief, anxiety, and disappointment has brought me to a place where I understand that I am someone who is prone to take things hard and go through dark times. But it also gives me a wonderful insight to the fact that I have a tool to help fight that darkness. Poetry.

The healing power of poetry goes beyond beautiful word structure or form. It surpasses surprising and fresh imagery. For me the connection of poet and reader and the ability for that connection to dispel isolation is almost supernatural. Whether it’s a modern classic like Sylvia Plath (and her her ability to wrap the anger and despair she was feeling into visceral and lingering stanzas) or new poet I stumble upon on Instagram who sums up an emotion in a simple way I would have never expected. These moments of connection help me see something that depression and darkness don’t want me to see: it’s not all about me. 

There is a bigger story going on. A bigger poem. We all take our place in it. We all have our verse. It’s in these moments of connection that to me the bigger story starts to become more apparent. The fact that emotions are so utterly unique and so completely similar throughout all of history. No one will every have your exact life experience. Yet simultaneously no joy or sorrow has yet to be felt that someone else hasn’t gone through.

There is something incredibly human about the desire to find beauty within tragedy. To me, this is what poetry does. It finds redemption in the dark, the horrific, and the hopeless. It looks at a world that is full of hate and division and despair and says, “There are beautiful things here too.” It reminds us that we are capable of thriving and living full lives.

I love going to the Psalms because they remind me that someone thousands of years ago was feeling the same emotions I am today. Asking the same sort of questions. Wondering about the meaning of life. Finding peace and comfort in the simple truths of the world. They remind me that as a poet I am part of bigger poem. I am just one verse. All I can do is try to write as beautiful of a verse as I am capable of.


Andrew Coons, poetry, poetry about depression, Minnesota poets
Andrew is a poet, husband, father, and video producer, living in Savage, MN.  His first book of poetry is Sin Eater, poems ranging from fatherhood and the beauty of a new baby to the isolation of depression.

Diagnosed with depression and anxiety, these themes play a big role in his writing.

To learn more about him and his books, to read some of his poetry and short stories, visit his website at

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