PoetryPoetry Workshop The Poetry Workshop

The Poetry-Pain Connection

Charlie examines poetry as catharsis in a workshop linked with the ideas and themes of Giving Sorrow Words, our feature in Charlie Says. For the the full explanation of this exercise, listen to Charlie at the following links: stream or file download.

Below is Charlie's sample poem.

The First Time the Library Saved My Life

The first time
the library saved my life
was when my college girlfriend and I
broke up.
It was a crisp clear autumn day
full of gloom
and it drove me straight to the
for consolation.
I pulled out something
that read
like Wittgenstein,
so heady it turned
into a blur
of words,
but just being there
was familiar
and consoling.
Philosophy was on the top floor
in the back
where we used to meet and sweat
this was before they

After a while up there
feeling sorry for myself
among the deep
I started to believe
I could hear the building
but of course it was only
the ghosts of all those
philosophers asking questions
like why? and what? and
how do you know?
which was more disturbing
than consoling.
It was the longest afternoon
of my life
but I got through it
with my love of the library
and only
a slight aversion
to Wittgenstein.

     --Charlie Rossiter

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