Sunday, January 3, 2010

Expressing Yourself In Poetry

Genesse Gentry, poet and author, has written a new book with both poetry and other writings that takes a look at expressing yourself in your grief journey.

She says, “One of the miracles of poetry is that you discover what you didn’t know about yourself. I learned that one day joy and peace would come in and they have.” Genesse’s poems are simple, yet thought provoking. I find them easy to understand and can relate my own grief to many of them, as I’m sure you would be able to also.

Genesse’s daughter, Lori, died at age 21 in a car accident in 1991. She has one surviving daughter, Megan. Her latest book just released is “Catching the Light: coming back to life after the death of a child.” The title is an interesting analogy. It relates to the fact that after a tragedy huge enough to break us, to shatter the pieces of beautiful glass that were our lives, we have a choice. Let the glass stay broken on the ground, covering the graves of our dead lives forever, or pick up the fragments and put them together in a new way so we may heal and grow. "Since it can never be put back exactly like it was, the glass now has the potential to become a prism," Genesse said. "Instead of the light shining straight through us, it is captured by all our facets, each finely polished by our deepening into grief. As the fragments catch the light, more colors are revealed and rainbows are formed, reflecting all the colors of our lives."

And so it was for Genesse. She wrote most of her poems after Lori’s death. Her first book “Stars In the Deepest Night” from 1993 is a collection of those poems, but she found she had more in her than she thought; in fact enough for a second book.

“It was 15 years ago that the poems came, about 2 ½ years after Lori died,” Genesse said. The first poem she ever wrote is titled “Skin Deep,” and is in her first book. “I wrote it in December, which is a difficult time of year for me because of the holidays and Lori’s death. As the Northern California’s regional coordinator for The Compassionate Friends, I knew I needed to learn how to express my feelings more to help others, instead of feeling sorry for myself. For the first time in my life, words came in the form of poetry.”

For anyone who wants to start writing poetry, Genesse says you have to be open and understand where you are in your grief journey. Write down ideas as you think of them or they will be gone.

One poem she wrote “Grief’s Garden” is in both books. “The words came one night as I was going to bed. The poem is an explanation of how much work grief is for all of us and how you need to really feel the terrible things before the good things will come through.”

In her new book, a poem came to her much later on one Father’s Day. She realized it was the anniversary of the last time she saw Lori and the poem flowed out of her. It is called “I Wonder” and expresses how she, unknowingly, has grown in understanding her grief.

When did sadness stop covering everything?
I don’t know.
It must have first been for moments,
then maybe hours,
days eventually.
Then for a long time
no longer ever-present,
but just below the surface
waiting for a thought to trigger it.
Now I live with more joy than sadness
but even now
sadness surfaces
as the dark shape of loss
stirs the cauldron
and tears are added to the soup of life,
salty still,
but not as bitter
or overpowering,
adding an important flavor
to the whole of me.

If interested in Genesse’s poetry books, go to .


  1. Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

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  3. I understand how you feel. I lost my 20 year old son a couple of months ago and since then I feel lost. I'm just trudging through the day limping along like a broken woman whose limbs have been severed. It seems like everyone else around me is over it. His death, his absence is like an 800 pound gorilla I the room that no one seems to notice but me. I feel so out of step with the rest of the world. Everyone is moving forward while I drown in a dark, suffocating sorrow. Maybe it's a mom thing. It has helped to write about him in my blog He communicates to us through mediums and other avenues to describe death, the afterlife, and other subjects. This brings me great comfort. I hope it helps other grieving parents too.

  4. The last straw will break the camel’s back.