Finding the power in words

Friday May 29th 2020

“When Covid 19 hit, I felt positivity was needed more than ever.”

Like so many of us in Woking, Maria Kanag has felt the challenges of lockdown. As a writer and teacher, finding a creative outlet became the best form of therapy - and it has led to the creation of the stunning poem, Bluebell.

We jumped at the chance to find out more from Maria about how anyone can get into writing:

“You just need to start. Write about things that move you, whether that be a place, a person, a situation or product. Be you, be authentic! Believe that what you have to say is important, but within that make sure you write in a way that is inclusive.”

For Maria, this creative outlet started as a means of helping with anxiety - it was an escape. As a child trying to grapple with two languages, communication had its difficulties. But in writing, Maria discovered her voice: “Writing something always made me feel better. I was lucky to have found it.”

And now, that voice is inspiring future generations of local writers, even in lockdown.

“In our current situation I have been teaching via Skype. Providing lessons, particularly to younger children, via a computer is more difficult, but I have also noticed the older children are struggling more with their mental health.”

Supporting the mental health and well-being of people in our community (and beyond!) was the genesis of Maria’s @wordwonder Instagram account.

“I started to write about things that might help parents with their children and health. Anything that I had something for, I used, in the hope it helped someone. I think words are far more powerful than we assume them to be. I want my words to be kind, positive and hopeful, and to brighten someone's day.”

One of the pieces you’ll find on that inspiring social feed is Maria’s poem, Bluebell, which was inspired by a key worker:

“Friends had lost relatives and I felt a deep sadness at their losses. It was overwhelming. The inspiration came when I went out for a run. That day, there seemed to be reminders everywhere. The only car I saw on the road was a lady in blue, a nurse I think, but equally she could have been a doctor or another hospital worker. I looked directly at her through the windscreen and I felt a surge of guilt that I was free to run and keep healthy, whereas she was heading to somewhere that would potentially put her life at risk.”

It was our idyllic local surroundings that gave Maria the space she needed to write:

“After that, every Bluebell reminded me of what I was trying to forget. The words started and I had to stop. By the time I got to Basingstoke canal, I sat down and put all my thoughts down."

You can listen to Maria’s reading of her full Bluebell poem on Instagram.

As lockdown eases and life slowly returns back to normal, you may find it therapeutic to put your own thoughts down in words. If you’d like to share them, we would love to hear more local voices. Share your work on the #WEAREWOKING social channels.

And remember, as Maria says, “Words have incredible power, we must use them kindly.”

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