These Poetry Changed Me posts are all about how poetry has had an impact on some of the spoken word artists around the country and the world. Today we have Mab Jones on how poetry as speech therapy…

I was a weird kid – a thin squib, then a fat squaw, pale and distant, uncomfy in my own skin, big eyes mooning, brain full of thoughts that scratched about like Finger Mouse. I was shy, I was insular, I felt sad and sorrowful for most of the time. It disturbed me that George and Zippy couldn’t move away from the desk in Rainbow – why not? Everyone seemed ‘stuck’ in some way… Mum was tied to the kitchen sink and Dad to his job, building houses for people much richer than us. I lost myself in books. I found it difficult to express myself. I would talk in school, but not at home. Then, vice versa. Then, one day, I stopped speaking almost entirely. I was 16. Later, this was diagnosed as ‘selective mutism’, an anxiety-related disorder, but only after I started speaking again, at age 24. Counselling was important in my recovery, but poetry was vital, too. Through words I faced fears and worked out worry. I disovered myself. I relaxed. I found my voice. Now, I am a mouthy cow who loves showing off onstage. Poetry changed me. Maybe not for the better… But, I’m glad it did.

Read more about Mab’s work on her website: www.mabjones.com