Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Poetry therapy

I had a wonderful experience this past weekend. For a number of years, I've been recommending John Fox's books, Finding What You Didn't Lose and Poetic Medicine, to people interested in writing poetry for self-exploration and understanding. Early last week, I found John was coming to Portland to offer a workshop for the weekend and I signed right up. Sometimes it is just so clear what we need to do and considerations of time and money are immaterial.

I wrote some wonderful poems, heard some great poems, met a whole new family of writers. And I learned a lot about what John does at the Institute of Poetic Medicine (www.poeticmedicine.com). This nonprofit funds the work of writers all over who work to alleviate suffering and isolation through poetry writing programs in schools, prisons, nursing homes, hospitals, and other community gatherings.

I was struck by the simple complexity of these efforts, of our listenings, of our being together, through self-expression. So powerful!

Here's the first poem I wrote in the workshop (for another, see my writing blog at www.thewritingwheel.blogspot.com):

And what if my words
carry the key to my feelings
in the breast pocket
of the charcoal pinstripe suit
they only wear to funerals
and high-holiday gatherings?
And what if the key opens
the floodgate of tremors and tears
in torrents?
And what if I used the key proffered
by a preposition or an adverb,
heedless, unconcerned, feather-light
on the tongue, salve to the ear,
Tinkering in uninhibited flux
of a trapeze crisscrossing
the high wire of my heart?

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