Words To Hang On To

Words that can reach out and find us

'I know nothing in the world that has as much power as a word. Sometimes I write one, and I look at it, until it begins to shine’, wrote Emily Dickinson. She dedicated her life to assembling words and nearly two hundred years after she died, her poems are more read than ever, offering an emotional lifeline to people all over the world.

Words do indeed have power. We might even say they have magic. They can reach out and find us, telling us exactly the thing we need to hear, at exactly the time we need to hear it. They can resonate across centuries and sometimes even survive the traumas of translation. Of course they can hurt as well as comfort, obscure as well as illuminate, but at their best they offer us a deep sense of connection, an assurance that we are not alone in our experiences.

Cheryl Strayed, lifelong collector of quotes, and author of many well loved lines herself, writes:

"The best quotes don't speak to one particular truth, but rather to universal truths that resonate - across time, culture, gender, generation and situation - in our own hearts and minds. They guide, motivate, validate, challenge and comfort us. They reiterate what we've figured out and remind us how much there is yet to learn. Pithily and succinctly, they lift us momentarily out of the confused and conflicted human muddle."

The internet is awash with free floating lines of inspiration or motivation, often untethered from their original source. On the one hand this is wonderful: thanks to Pinterest and Instagram more people than ever are discovering the poetry of Rumi, Walt Whitman or Mary Oliver. On the other hand, it can do a disservice to the careful craft of poetry - when it’s chopped up, shaken out of form and plastered over stock photography.

And there is something unsatisfactory about only being able to collect the words that nourish us in digital form. Just as we like to see physical books sitting on our shelves as reminders of the wisdom, comfort or delight they provided for us, so we need to hold poems, proverbs or quotes in our hands as well as our hearts.

That’s why we created Words To Hang On To, an anthology of individually printed poems to hold, to keep, to collect or to send.

Printed by Calverts Co-operative on G F Smith greyboard (which we think is the most exquisite paper made anywhere in the UK), then threaded with vibrantly coloured waxed cotton, these are talismanic objects, offering guidance, comfort and protection. Touch them, turn them, hang them from doors, bedposts or branches, hide them inside wallets or notebooks, post them to friends or leave them out for strangers.

We’d love to know which of the words we’ve published so far resonate most for you and where you choose to display them.

And we’d love to hear about other words that challenge, comfort or inspire you, so we can include them in this growing anthology.

Use the hashtag #wordstohangonto to share your words or pictures with us on facebook, twitter or instagram.

Sophie Howarth is founder at Department Store for the Mind. Follow her @howarthsophie