The Healing Verse: Trapeta B. Mayson, Poet Laureate

The Healing Verse: Poetry for Mental Wellbeing


When traditional gathering places for poetry experiences were shut down because of COVID-19, Trapeta B. Mayson, the city of Philadelphia 2020-2021 Poet Laureate, wanted to find a way to reach people with poetry.

in this season

we have learned

the winter of this place

we know its grip, its claw, its hold

(from in this season we heal, by Trapeta B. Mayson)

In addition to her work as a poet, Trapeta is a licensed clinical social worker, with a focus on mental health. She is aware of the positive connection between poetry and mental health, so tapped into the strong community of poets in the Philadelphia area and created the Healing Verse phone line.

When you see I have gone

to the place that leaves me

quietly undone,

you leave me lavender.

(from how I know, by Beth Feldman Brandt)

OC87 Recovery Diaries is thrilled to introduce you to The Healing Verse Poetry Line (1-855-763-6792), a toll-free telephone line that offers callers a 90-second poem.

I am my mothers son, which means I know

what it is to be restrained, to shackle oneself for

someone else’s freedom.
I know what it is to overflow;

to bubble over.

(from Fractal (mom), by Enoch the Poet)

We’re also thrilled to introduce you to this, the first in our eight-part poetry film series titled  The Healing Verse, which presents the work of seven of Philadelphia’s finest poets: Trapeta B. Mayson, Thomas Devaney, Yolanda Wisher, Enoch the Poet, Ursula Rucker, Beth Feldman Brandt and Cydney Brown, the Youth Poet Laureate for the City of Philadelphia 2020-2021.

Beautiful but fleeting

Cotton candy clouds with a blue back splash

Making you believe you can fly

(from Beautiful but fleeting, by Cydney Brown)

The Healing Verse is poetry for mental wellbeing. Each poet performs a work to camera that was featured on The Healing Verse Poetry Line. They also talk about the healing impact that poetry has in our world. The Healing Verse is a gift to the universe. It can be part of anyone’s day who might be feeling isolated, or, as Trapeta B. Mayson says, a pause.

Whatever the day or day before that, the feeling

was of sun and grandfather sitting.

(from When You Were Blessed, by Thomas Devaney)

According to Enoch the Poet, “poetry provides me a lens to start the process of figuring out what my emotions and the roots of those are. I always tell people poetry is therapeutic, but it’s not therapy. So writing poems is not a replacement for you actually going to therapy. but it is a gateway to figuring myself out.”

music gets my heart up

off the floor

in the shuffle

i hear a new song

stirring in the silence

after the last

kindling the before

(from in the shuffle, by Yolanda Wisher)

We hope you enjoy our mini-poetry film series, and that it provides you with an important pause in your day. As poet Beth Feldman Brandt says, “I think everybody needs to stop and rest a bit and maybe listen to a poem and just have a quiet or healing moment.”

This is a prescription poem for pain.

Take this poem as directed by the Most High.

Apply this poem as needed.

Overdose on this poem…

if it cures your pain…

until it cures your pain.

(from Prescription Poem, by Ursula Rucker)



EDITOR IN CHIEF: Gabriel Nathan | EDITOR: Glenn Holsten | DESIGN: Leah Alexandra Goldstein | PUBLISHER: Bud Clayman | FEATURED PHOTO: Trapeta B. Mayson, the founder of the Healing Verse Poetry Line, photographed by Kimberly Paynter/WHYY

Glenn is an award-winning director who loves to create compelling documentary story experiences of all lengths for screens of all sizes. He is an avid reader, studied literature in college, and his passion for stories with strong characters and interesting narratives stems from those years. His career as a visual storyteller began at WHYY (the public television station in Philadelphia) where he worked for 15 years before becoming an independent filmmaker. In addition to his PBS documentaries about arts and culture, he has directed films about justice and human rights, and now, mental health. He was emboldened to undertake his current documentary project, Hollywood Beauty Salon, a colorful feature-length documentary about surviving mental illness and finding the courage for recovery, after his transformative experience directing OC87: The Obsessive Compulsive, Major Depression, Bipolar, Asperger’s Movie, along with Bud Clayman and Scott Johnston.