Okay, so you’re probably in one of two camps; you think poetry is cool, expressive and the perfect way to write down your innermost thoughts, or you think it’s naff, outdated and would rather just listen to grime songs instead because they rhyme and they’re waaay more fun, right? If you’re in camp two, give poetry a chance. Like you said, you already enjoy things that rhyme…

It zhooshes language up

“Too wee, or not to wee. That is the question,” proclaims my mate before embarking on a longish car journey. It’s not ROFL, exactly, but quoting a verse from Hamlet’s soliloquy is a bit more entertaining than “mmm, I don’t know whether or not I need a wee.” That’s one of the reasons I love poetry. It makes language fun. It shines a new light on the drab, the dreary, the day-to-day stuff of life. In the words of Matthew Arnold, an Actual Poet, “poetry is simply the most beautiful, impressive, and widely effective mode of saying things, and hence its importance.” One of my favourite poems is about a mattress. Point made.

It NAILS feelings…

Robert Frost had a good acid test for poetry: “the lump in the throat”. “A complete poem,” he said, “is where an emotion has found its thought, and the thought has found words.” You know that feeling of numbness after you’ve been really devastated by something or someone? Well, Emily Dickinson has it down. You’ll find your own though. CS Lewis (of Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe fame) said “friendship … is born at the moment when one man says to another ‘What! You too? I thought that no one but myself’ and that is exactly what it’s like when you find the poet that speaks to you.

…but it’s also licensed nonsense

Jabberwocky by Edward Lear is a poem written for the sheer hell of it. It plays with language — or, rather, it plays with sounds, like babies do when they are learning to talk. To read it is to indulge in the ridiculous, the fantastic, and the impossible. Poetry, more than any art form, can do that: it is self-contained, with its own rhythm, rules and logic. “A big brown bear is knocking at my door” writes Selima Hill in My First Bra, and for a few minutes we can just suspend our belief.

It speaks truth to power

Telling WWI generals how it is in the trenches, telling presidents how it feels to be discriminated against, telling governments how it is to survive on benefits, telling event organisers what it means to be gay… as the old saying doesn’t quite go, the poetic is political, and the political is poetic. Like an ancient form of Twitter, poetry is an efficient form of communication that can – if the poem or poet is a success – strike right to the top.

It’s funny

Not always – sometimes it is seriously, utterly devastating – but some poems can really deep-tissue massage the funny bone: Cinderella by Road Dahl (NOT what you expect), Mr Oxford Don by John Agard, Nobody by Emily Dickinson and most things by John Betjeman are excellent places to start.

It’s not too spenny

Collections are expensive, sure – but there are millions of poems available for nothing at all on the internet. Look at Poetry Foundation, Poetry Archives, The Poetry Society… and Instagram, which believe it or not is becoming something of a poetic hotbed.

It can be written by anyone…

Every language and every dialect in every region of every country of the world has poetry in some form or another, and has done since the beginning of language. Some of the richest poems have been written by some of the poorest people: people without great formal education, who haven’t travelled much beyond their own village, let alone the world. Poets can be young or old, middle or working class, male or female and anywhere on any spectrum. They don’t need to have lots of time: the shortest poem in English, Flea, is four words – five, including the title. Reading poems helps a lot, but they don’t necessarily need to know much about poetry. Or own anything other than a piece of paper, and a pen.

…including you

There are all sorts of competitions, courses and guides for aspiring young poets. For inspiration, check out the latest winners of the Foyle’s Young Poet of the Year Competition – then just sharpen your pencil, and get rhyming.

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We all feel lonely sometimes, even the most popular people on the planet feel lonely – honestly!

Whether it’s because you’ve started a new school and don’t know anyone, you’ve drifted apart from some of your friends or you don’t even know the reason why and you’re surrounded by people but you still feel it. Well, newsflash – it’s totally okay to feel lonely. Everyone does!

Luckily, there are a few things you can do to deal with that feeling, turn it into something else and meet some new friends.

Try some new hobbies and get outside

One of the best ways to kick yourself out of a sad and lonely funk is to push yourself to do something brand new. Pick a hobby you’ve always wanted to try, like jogging, knitting or joining a new sports team. This will get you moving, it’ll get your brain thinking in new and exciting ways and it’ll allow you to meet new people too and gain new skills.

And remember, you don’t have to pick a hobby that involves people, sometimes loneliness can be good and lets you tap into your creativity and imagination. If you feel lonely but still want to spend time alone, pick a hobby like painting, calligraphy or write some poetry.

Look after yourself and tend to your needs

Do you ever feel like it’s really hard to be a good friend? And a good sister? And a good student? And a good daughter? It’s exhausting sometimes, right? But if you’re feeling lonely you need to look after someone else before anyone else. Have you guessed who? It’s you!

You can’t do well in school or give everyone else the love they need if you’re not looking after what you need. And what you need could be anything from doing less homework on a weekend because it causes you to feel nervous, spending more time on homework because you’re not doing as well as you’d like, asking for help with your work, getting more exercise, ditching the sweets and snack foods or anything else. You’re important – treat yourself like you are.

Meet new groups of people and join some clubs

Finding the energy to go out and meet new people can be challenging. We all think: “What if they don’t like us?” or “What if I’m no good at netball?”. But jumping into your fears can sometimes be the best medicine to feeling a bit lonely. You’ve tried something new, you’ve met some new people and over time they might become solid friends. Be proud of yourself!

Talk to someone about how you’re feeling

When we feel lonely a lot of us try and socialise with new people to get rid of the lonely feelings. But some of us hide away because we either don’t feel like people want to see us, or like we don’t want to see other people. This is okay sometimes, but the more you talk to people and get your problem off your chest, the better you’ll feel. You could try talking to one of your parents or your guardian, a teacher, a brother or sister or anyone you feel comfortable with.

If you’re finding your feelings of loneliness really difficult, then there are some services that let you talk to people as much as you like.

Remember that it’ll pass (psst… you’re a lot stronger than you think you are)

Sometimes when we feel really sad or really lonely, our minds make us think that it’ll feel like this forever. But all moods pass – the good, the bad, the in-between. A good thing to try and remember is that even when things don’t feel good, they’ll change. Even if it’s just changing from, “this sucks,” to “this feels okay.” You can get through it, we promise.


It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

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I once bought a cross stitch kit that included silk threads in 27 different shades of beige. No, really.

In the end my desire to create a scene of Winnie the Pooh and Piglet on a bridge wasn’t as great as my inability to distinguish between tan, sand, fawn and all the rest, so I dumped the kit on a friend (she gave up on it too) – but hey, not all attempts at starting a new hobby go so badly.

Plus it’s a good thing to try new activities in our free time. Studies have shown that having interests (even beige ones) helps to make us happier. They are also a way to make new friends and escape from the pressures of school, homework and exams for a bit. What’s not to like about that?

So in the spirit of January, here are eight new extra-curricular activities to try in 2017, based on things you already love. Oh, and none of them require you to leave the sofa. Much.

If you already love colouring books…

Dot-to-dot is the new kid on the mindfulness block! But just as the recent trend for colouring is nothing like what you did when you were four, the new dot-to-dot books are hardcore, with literally hundreds of tiny points to join together. This requires some serious concentration but also distracts from stress and anxiety. You can draw (ok, dot) everything from famous people’s heads to adorable puppies – check out Thomas Pavitte’s books for the coolest selection.

As well as putting pen to paper, folding it is suddenly big news too. The ancient Japanese art of origami is so hot right now, and if you’re looking for a challenge as well as bedroom decs that don’t cost a million pounds on Etsy, this could be for you. Creating animals and birds from paper requires a lot of patience, even if you have a kit explaining what to do, but the results are seriously delightful. For inspiration (and to give your folding fingers a rest), read Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes.


Another hobby with Insta-appeal is calligraphy. The art of beautiful lettering is centuries old, but that doesn’t stop YouTube and Pinterest being great places to learn the basics – with some practice you’ll be able to use calligraphy to create beautiful art based on your favourite poems and quotes. Get started now and you could have Christmas 2017 sorted by summer. How smug?

If you already love binge watching…

One of my goals for the year is to become a minor expert in EastEnders. What? I figured it would be fun to develop my obsession with the soap into an actual hobby, so I’ve started connecting with other fans through Twitter and reading books about the show’s history. If you also love geeking out over new subjects, you could try taking your TV fandom to the next level. Join forums, learn about how it’s made, write fan fiction about your favourite characters. Clear a shelf for some hand-painted Game of Thrones figurines. However you want to let your geek flag fly.

Or, switch media – instead of binge watching, try binge reading. If there’s an author you really like, work your way through all of their back catalogue. Not sure where to begin? There are loads of recommendations out there: check out the Zoella Book Club or Goodreads. Don’t forget this is a cheap hobby! Your school or local library will house enough books for even the most dedicated binge reader, so get a sturdy bag and let your inner Belle run wild.


If you already love crafts…

Whether you’re used to using pins and needles or scissors and glue, if you like crafting then how about turning your hand to upcycling? Nothing to do with bikes or hills, promise. Upcycling is kind of like recycling, only the goal is to make the new item as good or if not even better than it was before. It’s an awesome way to personalise your clothes or your space, and fill grey Sunday afternoons in a way that won’t induce a parental nag-fest. Unless you get paint on the carpet.

Check out charity shops for small chests of drawers or an old mirror to paint. Rummage in your wardrobe for items that you’ve grown out of. Search for inspiration online (Pinterest is great for this, obviously). Mega upcycler Lili from Chicago told me that she is proud of herself for being able to reuse items – like the purses she’s recently made out of old shirts. She says, “It’s really nice to know that you are able to make something beautiful out of something that you don’t use anymore. You can easily make something really cool.”

It was you, it was always you… (find the DIY on ohhappyday.com 🌮🌮🌮🌮🌮🌮

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If you already enjoy blogging…

There are so many hobbies to have a bash at if you like writing. Try going small scale and keep a one sentence diary – not as easy as it sounds. These can go on for YEARS, so you’re able to look back at memories that you might otherwise forget about (although in the case of your year seven crushes that might not be a good thing).

At the other end of the scale, experiment with making a fanzine. This is basically a small magazine that reflects your loves and passions. It could be about music, films, fashion, poetry, cheese toasties… anything. Join forces with friends to make it a sociable thing: work on one together, or all make your own and trade them. There’s a whole ‘zine scene out there of people swapping homemade mags, and you never know where it might lead. Sharmadean Reid started out with a fanzine that eventually led to her creating WAH Nails.



See, told you hobbies were cool.


It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome.