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Yrsa Daley-Ward: The model who turned her pain into poetry

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The Instagram poet Yrsa Daley-Ward has had a difficult life - an unsettled childhood, the loss of her mother and struggles with depression. But it's these things, she says, that have made her the person she is and added an extra dimension to her first, recently published collection, Bone.It was an episode of Coronation Street that prompted Yrsa Daley-Ward's mother to make a confession. The soap's storyline revealed that one character long supposed to have been another's father, was in fact her stepfather.Skip Instagram post by yrsadaleyward
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Daley-Ward ended up self-publishing a book of poems, Bone, some of which grew out of these sessions in South Africa. The same work made her a star on Instagram.Many of the poems deal with the pain of her early years. As a poet, she embraces all these hardships.Without them "I wouldn't have that wisdom," she says, "the experience makes you so rich as a person.""I believe that every experience is positive and I wouldn't have a book of poetry if I hadn't gone through challenging times. Poems about trees and flowers are lovely but it's definitely not my purpose to write about them."Challenging times certainly inform one of Yrsa's most notable poems, Mental Health.As she posts a few lines, her Instagram followers leave comments like: "I needed this one," "I read this during my last depressive episode and cried and cried…" and "Thank you for your words - so heart-wrenchingly beautiful."
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"When the blood in your body is weary to flow, when your bones are heavy though hollow, if you have made it past thirty celebrate and if you haven't yet, rejoice. Know that there is a time coming in your life when dirt settles and the patterns form a picture."
"It was so easy to write!" she says. "Because it was just everything I really, really felt. The truest things for me are the easiest to write because it just comes straight from the heart."Writing is also a healing process, she argues. "That's always going to make you feel less isolated and isolation is the thing that's really going to keep you marooned underneath whatever is happening."As difficult as it might seem, you'll be surprised to find a lot of allies and a lot of support."Even people who don't consider themselves writers, should consider writing for their own good, she says.
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"Getting up in the morning and just brain dumping can sometimes be really beautiful and make you feel a lot lighter."Despite her complicated relationship with Seventh Day Adventism, and with religion generally, Daley-Ward believes that some kind of spiritual practice is also helpful, even if it's only meditation."That's really important today when we're bombarded with news and facts and negativity," she says."You can't let it feed your brain, you have to feed yourself with positivity."Her next project is a memoir called The Terrible.Like Bone - which was republished by Particular Books, an imprint of Penguin, last year - it will take the terrible experiences of her youth, she hints, and will see the positive.Join the conversation - find us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter.
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