EXPRESS YOURSELF

maggie and milly and molly and me

Poetry helps me express my inner outsider

Katy Friedman Miller
Human Parts
Published in
5 min readSep 24, 2021

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Credit: oxygen / Getty Images

may came home with a smooth round stone
as small as a world and as large as alone

from “maggie and milly and molly and may” by e.e. cummings

The other day, I wrote a poem (a very mediocre, and maybe even bad poem) for the first time in a long time. But all at once, I had a good feeling inside me that I didn’t have when I started writing. The way my brain feels writing a poem is something like a bird diving for fish in the ocean. I am the bird and the fish at the same time. Things swim under the surface to be caught and it feels exciting to catch them.

Writing the poem, I cried. I am not a big crier, but I also wasn’t surprised that that felt good, too. If you are a person who loves poetry, you know the strange feeling that it touches inside you — a secret whispered that tickles your knowing beyond the words on the paper.

In writing (or reading) a poem, I ask myself questions and listen for all the answers. And because I am a busy person and because I am a person who loves to be silly and because I am a person who does not want to make a fuss about myself, I didn’t know I’d been “holding it together” for a long time. Asking and listening released something inside me that had been holding tight, unattended to, and lonely. And just being asked — one part of me to the next — felt as if I found something needed, but that I might have lost forever if I didn’t tend to it.

When I was 35 years old and began writing, studying, and sharing poetry with others, I asked and listened and wrote in a way that felt necessary, almost compulsive, and somehow related to my survival. I’d folded myself into a box of being “good.” Motherhood, caregiving, hospice work, being a “good daughter,” or “good friend,” or “good wife” had silenced more complex parts of me — the silence became intolerable. I wrote a fair number of poems that I enjoyed performing because they were true, a little angry, and they made the audience laugh.

The Advantages of Not Fucking Hemingway

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Katy Friedman Miller
Human Parts

I’m a grief therapist and former hospice social worker. Sharing stories from life, death, and work and where they all intersect. TEDx talk at www.ted.com