Durre Shahwar reads out her poem, ‘I Wanted to Tell You’ which is about the difficulties of mental health problems and its effect on the body, as part of Wales Arts Review’s new series, Artists in Residence. Here she reflects on the use of writing and bibliotherapy as a coping mechanism when dealing with mental health. Throughout 2017 artists, including Durre Shahwar will take a leading creative role in what Wales Arts Review publishes, centring their skills on a challenging project over the course of a month. We were inundated with applications, receiving hundreds of emails about the positions, and it was no easy task whittling down all that talent to this final eleven. Our team of six editors debated long into the night, and in the end, we decided on a collection of people who we most want to work with, and whose work excites us. We think you will be excited by them too.
I Wanted to Tell You by Durre Shahwar which highlights the difficulties of mental health was originally published in Inside the Bell Jar.
This poem came about after I noticed the first signs of not feeling quite a hundred per cent ‘myself’. It was a moment of full expression on paper after I had struggled to verbally communicate to someone quite close to me at the time as to how I was feeling. As a writer, I always try and find new ways to write about mental health that are engaging whilst also being authentic and raw. It is at once easy and difficult to tell someone you don’t feel quite right, that you feel depressed, or extremely happy one moment and the opposite another, or that you’re hearing voices. But how to do that in a way that they understand exactly what you mean and how it affects you? I wanted to dive deeper and express mental health through its manifestations on the body as a mapping of emotions metaphorically and physically. Mental health is more than a problem in our head; it is a threat to physical health, as well as our very sense of being. I hope this poem conveys that.
To hear the poem, go to Wales Arts Review’s official Soundcloud profile.