“I Hope You Feel Something” – Youth Wellness Centre publishes first poetry anthology

“Hope Waits”
“Wild Mind”
“Non-Visible Ouchies”
“Things I Wish I Could Say”

These are just a few of the pieces you’ll find inside the Youth Wellness Centre’s (YWC) first poetry anthology, aptly titled, I Hope You Feel Something.

In July 2023, clients of the YWC were invited to attend drop-in sessions to try their hand at writing poetry. The workshops were led by a facilitator who imparted techniques in poetry crafting and expression through the written word. The intent was to empower youth to share their observations and feelings in a creative, supportive environment. It also provided participants with a safe space to share their budding poetry prowess with others, giving voice to lived experiences and emotions in a fun, informal setting.

Fast forward a few months, and the YWC’s Poetry Club has published its first anthology! The soft cover book features more than forty pieces of moving poetry and text-based art, hand-crafted by users of the YWC’s programming and its staff members, too. The works touch upon many different (and often difficult) themes such as addiction, grief, trauma, acceptance, stigma and more.

Amanda Engelhardt, is a community support counsellor for the YWC’s Transition Stream and the poetry club’s facilitator. She helps service users build empowerment and advocacy skills, find safe and effective coping strategies, utilize skills in an informal setting, address barriers, and identify and achieve their personal and mental health goals.

“This program offers a non-judgmental space for youths to feel inspired in their expression. They’re challenging themselves to share their emotions and experiences and build community,” explains Amanda. “Through this practice, we are indirectly teaching youths that it’s okay to feel emotions, to label them, to process and express them. Essentially that’s the first step in emotion regulation. When you first think of poetry, you immediately think of formality and rules. Maybe even a sonnet, haiku, or acrostic. This can be intimidating! But what we learned through these workshops and writing our anthology book, is that poetry is art, and art can be anything.”

Amanda is passionate about meeting people where they are at through the YWC’s different programs and using shared interests to help guide service users along their personal journeys.

“This anthology has given so much pride and motivation to the authors and artists who contributed, as well as inspiration for others to join,” shares Amanda. “To hear youth say things like ‘wow, I didn’t know I could do that,’ and ‘you don’t know how much this means to me,’ has been incredibly rewarding. It has provided an outlet for expression, for voices to be heard.”

The Poetry Club is one of many interest-based programs offered by the YWC to support clients as they receive care. The Poetry Anthology is available for purchase from the YWC for only $15, with all funds going directly back into funding future Poetry Club writing workshops and endeavours. Please contact Amanda at aengelha@stjoes.ca to purchase your copy.