The Q&A: Adam Phillips: Poetry as Therapy

When you speak of poetry making people feel something that they don’t necessarily want to feel, like music—are you implying that poetry has a therapeutic use?

Adam Phillilps: I do, I really think it has a use. There is a thing Kafka says in his diaries which is something like “literature is an axe to break the sea frozen inside us”. I think that we are very frightened of the intensity and the excesses of our emotional lives. And that the arts—and if you happen to like poetry, then poetry, but it could also be music—enable you to both bear and get pleasure from your feelings. And also to discover the things that matter most to you.

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