August 24

Where are the Caring Adults?

The title of this post was the headline of a local news article (www.pridepublishingroup.com) by the founder of the Children’s Defense Fund.  I live in urban Nashville and I have felt the frustration she writes about on behalf of poor children.  One young man she interviewed at a local high school here in Nashville said that he had been to 12 or 13 funerals of boys he had grown up with.  He himself had been homeless, forced to make it on his own.  Other teens talked of being afraid of being robbed–of violence, poverty, and trauma.  These teens have a mentor, but Ms. Edelman laments that so many children do not.  What does this have to do with poetry?  When I looked at the CDF web site, there was an article about the power of art to give such young people hope.

In an article titled Youth Works, it was reported that the neighborhood of South Berkeley, just under two miles from downtown and the University of California at Berkeley campus, is the poorest region of the city — home to nearly 500 homeless youth and hundreds of other near-homeless young adults living below the poverty level.

“Art is beyond a shadow of a doubt therapeutic and healing because for a moment you step away from anything you’re going through. It’s a chance to breathe, a chance to reset your system and bring a new reality to an otherwise blank page.”

I continue to quote: “The concept of creating art as a means of therapy and healing is not uncommon. The International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies has found a relationship between creative arts therapies and the brain, including how the brain processes traumatic events and the possibilities for reparation through art.  The American Art Therapy Association emphasizes that art therapy programs help kids build resilience and move beyond life’s hurdles, promote self-awareness, improve self-esteem and competence, develop coping and control skills and lead to a stronger future.”

This sounds a whole lot like poetry therapy.  I wonder what doors I should be knocking on and who would help me help the most vulnerable among us.

August 18

just for fun

Who knew that poetry could be so much fun?  Some very special women at the Madison Station Fifty Forward made me a published writer…well, sort of.  They continued meeting in the writing group we started together after I left them to take a “real job.”  In the spring, the lady who had taken my place as the informal leader called me.  The Wisdom Writers were publishing their first book entitled Spring Wisdom and they invited me to write something with a spring theme.  I thought of one poem whose title I could change and they thought it would fit.  They surprised me later with dinner and a page dedicating their book to me.  In the weeks to come I plan to continue learning more about the actual forms of poetic expression; I find I can remember if I actually write a poem.  But today, just for fun, I include my first published work.

Why I Don’t Spring Clean

I was going to wash the windows

but I’ve got a new book.

It came in the mail today.

Slick, shiny cover; seductive words

I just have to open and take a look

maybe the windows can wait a day.

I was going to dust the cobwebs down

but I’ve got a new book.

It came in the mail today.

August 10

A New Journey

About a year ago, I began learning about the power of using poetry to generate discussion, motivate writing, and sometimes change a life.  So I am starting a new service offering classes, workshops and retreats for people in the Nashville area.  There is much research in the general area of journal writing and poetry therapy.  Small groups of 6 to 8 people gather to read a poem, savor the beauty of the words, and slowly start to let the poem speak.  I’ve trained for this, I’m excited about it, and I hope to share the joy with others.

August 10

Hello world!

For my first blog, I want to quote a favorite verse from the Bible.  This is not a “Christian” blog exclusively, but I am most definitely a Christian.   I want to give credit to the Source of my very life, not to mention this new life I’m loving as I share poetry with friends.  This particular verse keeps coming back to my attention.  The first time I remember noticing it was in 1998, just weeks after my husband’s death.  He died in England, and there were many loving folks who came from the Isle of Wight to his memorial service on the mainland.  Then, I was obligated to take his ashes back to the States for yet another service.  When it was time to return to England (and my ministry with the British Methodist Church), I was depleted.  How does one face such a challenge?  I walked into a Christian book store somewhere, and on a wall there was the following verse.  It spoke to me then and it speaks to me today:  “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)