Therapy

Riding Johnny’s Train



I’m on your train,
Riding through the lower melodies like
Cars crashing through steel
Leaving twisted steel in our wake.

The speed of thought is a battering ram;
It’s momentum builds mass.
The faster we think the thicker we get,
The heavier gravity’s pull.

Can we escape our bodies?
Why can’t we just take our bodies with us?
Eternity surly has enough room
Our bodies are vinyl cartwheels spinning after us,

The tails of burning meteors.
We burn atmospheres so fast and hot
We don’t even know we’ve arrived
Until after we’re long gone.

And now that we’ve arrived, we’re much too early
For supper.
For the show to begin.
Unless of course, it’s already ended and we missed it again.

Riding Johnny’s Train

TAKE A DEEP BREATH by Igor Goldkind and Frederic Iriarte


The Cure for Pandemania is Here! 

An Album of Original Spoken Contemporary Poetry and Music

– Making Sense Where Nothing Else Does –

Original poetry by Igor Goldkind
Music by Frederic Iriarte and Igor Boyko

Launching September 5th at The 2020 International Beat Poetry Festival (Normally in Boston, now virtually everywhere!) https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCilhqGXf2CAARg7N7EjwNQg

The Festival Will be streaming 3 original music videos from the album for the first time.

TAKE A DEEP BREATH is available for download  exclusively on Bandcamp 

9 Tracks, 40 Minutes, $18.00   $15 EU

Original Words, Music, Video and Antidotes for Living With Uncertainty


Internationally renown fine artist and producer Frederic Iriarte and American Poet Igor Goldkind have collaborated on 9 original tracks of musical interpretations based on Igor Goldkind’s forthcoming collection of poetry also entitled TAKE A DEEP BREATH
The album of 9 tracks is being launched as a complete work at this year’s International Beat Poetry Festival and will be released for download at midnight  this coming Saturday, September 5th.

This unique multimedia work was written and produced during the pandemic in Stockholm, San Diego and Moscow.  It is intended as an artistic attempt to help us live with uncertainty and survive catastrophe living.

TAKE A DEEP BREATH is most important piece of Spoken Word Art to come along at just the right time: right when we all needed it the most!” 
–  Henry Rollins

TAKE A DEEP BREATH and step out of your comfort zone.
Just don’t look down.

2020 has been a year of both social, economic and psychological upheaval.   Humans have been required to adapt to drastically changing circumstances without forewarning and without certainty as to the outcomes. 

We are being challenged as a species to adapt. 
Adaptation is our genus but it is also painful  and exhausting. 
TAKE A DEEP BREATH is a guidebook:  a pause for a moment of reflection.   Take a break from panic and get a clear view of where we are as individuals, as a people and as a species.

Covid-19 has literally attacked our humanity however in doing so has done us the service of reminding us of our shared humanity, our common mutual vulnerability.  These are hard lessons to learn and uncomfortable changes to be made for us to survive.   TAKE A DEEP BREATH is a pause in the gloom  and a chance to regain our strength and resilience to  all carry on.

TAKE A DEEP BREATH is a step backwards in time when poetry and music were used  and appreciated as tools for contemplation, meditation and reflection on the most crucial factor in our lives.  Now that we are being confronted and overwhelmed with multiple catastrophes,  is the time to return to using  poetry for what it is designed for: 

Reflection, Meditation, Contemplation
Self-Healing and Recovery

We will survive.


Pandemic: The Cure for Panic in the Face of Uncertainty


What if we thought of this uncertainty
as the Jews consider our Sabbath—
As a sacred space in time?
Stop travelling
Stop buying and selling.
Stop working.
Give up for now,
trying to make the world
better than it is.

Instead, Sing. Dance. Pray.
Write songs and read poetry.
Paint the pictures from your eyes.
Walk amongst the leaves and the stars.
Touch only those to whom you have commited your life.

Sit down.
And when your mind and body have become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected in ways that are both terrifying and beautiful.
No one can deny that now.

Do not reach out with your hands.
Reach out with your heart.
Reach out with your words.
Reach out with all the curled tendrils
of compassion that connect us invisibly,
where we cannot touch each other.

Promise this world your love
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
For as long as we all shall live
In this time of mass uncertainty.


On Poverty and Consciousness


A new acquaintance asked me why I endured relative poverty and uncertainty in California when I could easily take a tech copywriting or PR job and be living comfortably.

I answered, for which I’m sure someone reading this might wonder the same.

The answer is not simple and all has to do with my commitment to art and to the art of writing. It’s somewhat like a religious or spiritual calling; certainly as requisite of sacrifice and discipline as a monastery. (Read James Joyce’s Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man, if you need further elucidation on the subject). To become a great artist, which is what I believe I am becoming at this late stage of my life (or will at least die trying to be), takes total focus and constant dedication.

Not just to creation but to observation. Many of my best friends are not just poets and artists but scientists and mathematicians because they are processing their own observations through their own disciplines. When we talk and share words they read me and hear me, they comprehend how we’re all pursuing the same thing: the truth about life and the lives we are living.

Science and Art are really just two different vantage points in the same universe. During our Rennaisance there was no such separation between science, engineering and art. Just look at Da Vincis’s sketches if you don’t believe me. And this underlines the true failing of the formal education systems. No purely structured system can account for, much less process the unstructured data of experience.

But one truth I have learnt along this way is that we are all connected; both as a species and as sentient beings. Not just to those existing in the moment we all share but for all of us, from the very beginnings of awareness and rational self-consciousness. We are all brothers and sisters of the same mind, the same awareness that is awake and cognicent.

We all share the same biology of the mind.
I imagine that when extraterrestrial sentient life is contacted, it will be the poets and artists most open to the new who will not only best describe and communicate qualitative meanings with them but decipher their language(s) to communicate with them (more of “us”?), before the actual scientists can interpret their data and the military can rationalize the threat.

From the point of commonality; this sentience itself has a common shape or form in all of us throughout time and geography. It is our human nature.

My words try to sketch its outline.

Without needing to name a god, the Buddhists have been attempting to describe this commonality of all sentient beings, for thousands of years. In art and yes, in poetry too.
It’s what poetry is for: to describe the indescribable that is true for all of us, to all of us.

The known shining its single torch down a darkened corridor to the unknown.
The unknown (not the unknowable), has always been our mind’s final frontier.

We weren’t born yesterday. We did not just become aware of consciousness. The history of consciousness is the history of us, of the ‘you’ that is reading and comprehending these words.

You are no different in awareness than the Neanderthal who stumbled out of her cave and looked up at the stars in wonder. Every astronomer I have ever known harbors that exact same wonder. Our tools maybe bigger, faster and deadlier but our minds haven’t changed, just adapted to our tools. They’re physiologically still the same; and only enhanced by the evolution of language, both associative, symbolic and metaphoric.

This is where we alll connect. The commonality of our senses’ perception and their comprehension. This is what is meant by ‘realisation’. When we make the world real. When we realise that the truths we know from our senses connect us to the world as intimately as to each other.

These are the materials I use to create art.

But why not get a day job?
I will have to.
I have learned all I can stomach for now about the tangible reality of poverty. I have made some great and tragic friends outside my walls of privilege and comfort. But when I first detected my dwindling resources, I panicked. I borrowed gas money from friends, slept in beachside campsites for free and spent too many days in chic cafes nursing one cup of coffee and a refill just to write, just to connect with the non poverished. I. applied for every job I was qualified for and hustled my books even harder.

But this did not avert my panic and the fear, until it passed of its own. And you already knnow: nothing is ever as bad or as long as we first imagine it to be. That’s when I understood how many of my needs, weren’t needs at all and that I could live without the comforting requisites of a middle class existence, just fine. In some ways better.

Less consumption = less waste.

There’s what I want and what I can have and if I diminish my wants, I can have have everything I want.

When you don’t have any money, you don’t spend any money and that initself is a good thing.

The last argument that pursuaded me of the virtue of experiencing this lifestyle is that if I really wanted to write for wider audience in a profound and meaningful way, that I might need to understand and empathize with the truth of our human condition across the entire economic spectrum, not just those who can afford to buy books

And the truth is that the vast majority of “us”do not live a middle class lifestyle and that the majority of “us” struggle every day to earn what is called a living and yet seldom ressembles it.

I have met so many, so many poor people living on the streets in one of the wealthiest cities in the wealthiest state in the union, in the wealthiest nation in the world.
None of us can afford to rest within our illusion of justice and freedom until poverty is no longer the default state of the human condition in America. Remember, poverty is a prison from which escape is difficult. But if we truly want to say that we live in the land of the free, then we must free our citizens from the prison of poverty.

They are “us” as well. Not charitable”us”, not pitiful “us”, not lazy, drug taking, alcoholic “us”.

Just us.

I have talked in depth with enough of the so-called “homeless”. to recognize them for who they really are: The Poor. You know, those people Jesus was always talking about and Charles Dickens and Emile Zola wrote about? The idea that those without homes choose to live that way is a bigoted urban myth that need to be quashed.

Yes, may of the poor have real problems with alcohol, drugs and severe mental illness. But so does every other group and class of people I have ever known. The rich and the middle class aren’t exempt from alcohol, drugs and craziness; in fact they can afford more!

How then are we less connected as human beings?
Or is “humaness” only measured by level of income?

When I moved back to California to look after my mother, I was immediately struck by the avalanche of poverty that had engulfed my home town. As is every other foreign visitor to California, by the way. No tour of Balboa Park or visit to Sea World can eradicate the open poverty that everyone can see on the streets of San Diego. Which now more closely ressemble the streets of Port-au-Prince, Haiti or the extreme poverty that can be found in some places in Mexico, than any American city.

The first thing that went was the last vestage of regional or even national pride.
It is a crime against humanity for so rich a city as San Diego to maintain the level of homeless poverty that is evident to anyone who visits us. It is “our” fault. Because we are also connected to the impoverished and the socially weak.

You know, what Jesus was saying.

If I am to write the truth for those who want to read or hear the truth, then I ought to know what is lying outside the walls my middle class habits and worldview. What is it really like, not just for the impoverished but for the vast majority of Californians who also now live beyond the walls of middle class sensibilities, paycheck by paycheck?

Haunted by the memories of its long gone comforts.

What does it mean to be a human being living in America right now, in 2020. Aren’t we all supposed to have jertpacks by now?

What is the Truth of our American selves?

As Tony Morriosn said “The whole point of freedom is to free others”.

To my friends who have offered their support, I thank each one of you.
I will never forget your kindness and your humaness.


Yes I have a new book coming out in the fast approaching Spring.
It’s entitled TAKE A DEEP BREATH, A Book of Remedies and will feature much of the writing and accounts of experiences of truth that I have had living in California these last 5 years.

I hope that you will take a look.


Poetry Therapy


Everyone wants to be free.
ven from the things that once gave us comfort.
We are like children who swap our blankets
For softer ground.

So why do you wait  to be free
When the keys to your cage 
Are hanging right outside your front door?
Reach through the bars with your hand
Stretch your fingers far and bend your will around the bars.

Your mind is your best friend, your best teacher, your best doctor,
Whether you believe it or not.
In spite of everything you’ve done to yourself,
Your mind really does care about you and often thinks of you, quite fondly.

Just let your mind mend itself
Heal yourself with a few choice words.
Your own words.
When you say:

The truth is not a cold tombstone
The truth is not a judgement
The truth is a flowering realisation inside your own living mind.
Pulling you outwards, & forwards, enraptured by Time.

When my breath and
My will are as one,
The universe swallows me
Whole.


The Stars


There are few shreds of dignity left
When you drown face down in your own back street gutter.
You can cry out as loud as an archangel’s horn, if you like.
It won’t do you any good, or any harm either.
You still can’t silence the wind or turn back the tide.
Fate is nothing personal.

It’s just the universe catching up and then passing you by.
Your dream of yourself evaporates,
Forming clouds that obscure the night’s sky.
The stars are leaving you now, blinking out one by one.
This is the last moment of your own
self-awareness.
Your last chance to figure out what the fuck’s been going on.

It’s very much like the moment you first awoke
Although your mother’s smile is nowhere to be found
All that remains of her unlimited love is your fast fading memory
The sound of her voice calling out to you to come home now,
In the far distance,
From where the stars have gone to mourn your passing.


So You Think You’re Going to Shoot Me?


The real blood libel.

So you think you’re going to Shoot Me?
I got news for you goyim,
You’ve been shooting at me for 900 years
From arrows to bullets to canon and you still haven’t hit me.
Because I am no other than you.
How can I replace you when I am you?
Open your eyes, you are shooting the gun at yourself.

You don’t get it.
This must be the trick of the devils’ twisted tongue, right?
The one that tries to deceive you
With the facts of truth
Poured from the grail of reason.
Go on, have a gulpful .

No, you can’t shoot me, you can’t even aim straight.
Your hatred is so predictably boring,
Always looking for someone else to blame
For your failure as a human being.
Anyone should do, but
Just like a bad movie cliche, you pick the Jew.

How can you shoot me,
When most of us are already dead?
Replaced, misplaced, driven from your nations’ borders.
Baked in your ovens.
Never even pausing
To wonder what the difference ever really was.

Now we have nations, guns and missiles and
Our own black-booted armies, to protect us from bad shots like you.
To protect us from everyone but ourselves.
Now we can sip from the same blood cup,
While hating then shooting,
All of the Other Jews.


Being is Becoming Still


Image © Wendy Farrow

Existence is a limitless screen of emptiness
Vibrant with jubilant celebrations.
And gratitude for the joy in rolling a boulder blissfully up this steep hill.
Tripping over our own thoughts like loosened cobblestones,
We no longer see the reality directly in front of us.

The truth is a truce we struck with certainty ages ago.
After losing the desperate struggle…
To cling to some kind of hope buried deep beneath the root of ourselves.
I am fearful of fully failing myself and yet
I love myself best when I am alone with eternity.


Suicide Note:





There are still a few options available to you still, apart from death.
Yours is a free choice.
Your death is yours.
No one is making you choose;
Death is after all, inevitable.

Not so much an option as fast forwarding to the point where there are no further options.
Living is dying anyway, so why speed up the process?
To stop the pain?
Many have endured much more
Still clinging to any delay of the inevitable.

Regardless, suicide doesn’t stop the pain it merely passes the suffering on to someone else.
Remember them?
They remember you.
They will remember you with pain.

You no longer feel of worth or of value anymore?
To whom, exactly? yourself?
Perhaps your judgement is drunk or wanting in discernment?
Perhaps your judgement is just wrong and awaits over-ruling by a higher judgement.
Who are you, really, to judge yourself so severely?
If you are worthless then your judgement is suspect and certainly not worth acting upon.

What if you went and saw a movie instead?
Or got drunk?
Or went to sleep?
Or made love until the dawn found another, better judgement to wake up to.
A truer, more temperate version of yourself.
One who can solve problems and get you out of the sweet jam you’re stuck in.

Do you long to die because life is absurd and void of meaning?
What took you so long to notice?
Does your slowness make you want to do things quicker?
Instead of death, you could seek laughter, which is really a form of dying;
A release from the known into the unknown by way of
Catching your breath inside its own rhythm.
Inwards and outwards.

What if you were about to hear a joke you’ve never heard before?
That made you laugh so hard that it woke you up into the wide-eyed, open world that embraces this one?
If you die now, you will miss hearing the eternal joke
That would awaken you to a world where you no longer wanted to die
Because you suddenly found yourself here,
Where you belong
Where you belonged all along,
Not living or dying
But blinking and breathing like this,
Like this, like this, like this…

©Igor Goldkind 2018


Meditations on My Self


 

This morning after sitting around and paying attention to nothing for a long while, the pedestrian thought that loitered and would not keep moving down the sidewalk became a realisation.

My self, which I know is an illusion, a trick of perception, occupies too much of my time. I know this fully with my mind even if my heart still clings to safe delusions.42264995_10156899714172755_3271701164613173248_n

The easiest thoughts to dismiss are the good ones, the comforting ones. The memories of past loves long gone. My mother’s unconditional love, my sister’s devoted, admiring love. The eulogies and compliments I’ve received over time from those who have borne the patience to get to know me just a little bit beyond our facades.

The pleasure I took in surprising my friends with my true nature is easily exiled, easily erased from the Book of Illusion resting on my dusty shelf. But today I awakened to the fact that so it is of the slings and arrows my memory flings at me. The regrets, the failures, the self-loathing for being so much less than I imagine myself to be.

I have welcomed hatred like a long lost friend. When I am targeted by malice or false accusations, I somewhere believe that I am well deserving of acrimony; that deep within me is a broken porcelain doll wearing a torn, stained dress.                42280406_10156899719217755_8873110727947190272_n I have sought refuge in self-hatred, in depression, in the idle futility of it all.

After all, cynicism is just another mask worn by our own complacency.

This morning, the light shone on me and I laughed at how insidious my vanity  could be. To soak in self-loathing is as deluded as celebrating false glories. None of my past is real apart from what I insist on carrying into this present like a troublesome burden; weighing down my footsteps. Stalling the will to keep on moving,  with the current, a little further down the road. Misery, the sister of Narcissus, loves company and the good liquor I buy her. But she’s too needy and crazy and no real friend of mind.

I may feel brave wrestling with my demons but they are in truth, made of the same scattered dust as my angels.

My Buddha tells me that enlightenment lies in the transcendence of seeming dualities. The trick of mind in seeing beyond black and white  to the full spectrum and subtleties of the colors surrounding me.  I can hold my inner sense of self, both magnanimous and self-damning, one in each hand and then bring those hands together, accepting both as one simultaneous truth.
I can know myself completely, even the parts left out.

Rumi says that beyond right and wrong, beyond good and evil, lies the desert of disillusionment.

At the end of the desert there is an oasis and in the middle of the oasis is a fountain and that fountain is the source of all Life.

Do me a favour, next time you feel down about yourself, undeserving of love, miserable and useless; do not blow the feelings away but rather hold them in one hand.  Then with the other hand conjure the feelings of pride, of self-worth of glorious love. Hold each sense of yourself like a ball in each of your hands while substituting either/or with both/and.   Now bring your hands together in gratitude for the whole of who you are.

Tell me how that feels.

Write it here, just beneath these words.


The Halo of a Hope


 

moon-halo-Aaron-Robinson-1-30-2015-e1422620675286

Hope is mortal, not eternal.
Though it may feel like eternity
Sitting in a chair by the window.
Gazing up and down the path that leads
Up the hill and down to the canyon on your doorstep.

Every morning, every evening, every day.
Waiting for an answer to your prayer for hope to be restored.
Resilience rewarded
Patience still burning brightly
Under your old photograph on the wall where you live now.

I’m not sad.
No, sadness is just passing rain to irrigate the eyes.
Instead, I’m a new planet
Ringed  by the last halo of hope
The one wrapped tightly around my head.

 

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Being is Becoming Still


 

 

Soul1

 

 

 

 

 

 

Existence is a limitless screen of emptiness,

Joyous celebration,

And gratitude for the joy in rolling a boulder blissfully up a steep hill

Tripping over our thoughts like loosened cobblestones

The truth is a truce we have struck with certainty.

After losing the desperate struggle…

images

To cling to some kind of hope buried at the root of ourselves

Does choice invalidate certainty?

By undermining the sense, the unravelling of our story.

I am fearful of fully failing myself.

Although I love myself best when I am alone with eternity,

basicconceptsSecure and supported by this universal clarity.


Blue Notes




 
imagesDepression is merely an afterthought.

A reflection on deeds that cannot be undone
But our thinking is cut off from the action.
A circuit is broken in a chain that cannot be rejoined.
images-2We are slaves to our memories
Being tortured in real (not imagined), time.
We recall everything from our own anxious center of risk

Hiding the moment we know to be true;
From ourselves, yet again.
images-1

Image

A Short History of Poetry Therapy: Practice and Perfection by Igor Goldkind


On FaceBook, a discussion where questions are posed and answered:  https://www.facebook.com/realpoetrytherapy/

The healing effect of words has long been recognized. As far back as 4000 BCE, early Egyptians wrote words on papyrus, dissolve them in liquid, and gave them to those who were ill as a form of medicine. In more recent history, reading and expressive writing have been employed as supplementary treatments for those experiencing mental or emotional distress. Pennsylvania Hospital, the first hospital established in the United States, employed this approach as early as the mid-1700s. 565263b60c258b2297259258628f7262

In the early 1800s, Dr. Benjamin Rush introduced poetry as a form of therapy to those being treated. In 1928, poet and pharmacist Eli Griefer began offering poems to people filling prescriptions and eventually started “poem-therapy” groups at two different hospitals with the support of psychiatrists Dr. Jack L. Leedy and Dr. Sam Spector. After Griefer’s death, Leedy and others continued to incorporate poetry into the therapeutic group process, eventually coming together to form the Association for Poetry Therapy (APT) in 1969.

Librarians also played a major role in the development of this approach to therapy. Arleen Hynes, one pioneer in this area, was a hospital librarian who began reading stories and poems aloud, facilitating discussions on the material and its relevance to each individual in order to better reach out to those being treated and encourage healing.  In 1980, all leaders in the field were invited to a meeting to formalize guidelines for training and certification. At that meeting, logo-with-pegasus-and-sloganthe National Association for Poetry Therapy (NAPT) was established.

As interest grew, several books and articles were written to guide practitioners in the practice of poetry therapy. Hynes and Mary Hynes-Berry co-authored the 1986 publication Bibliotherapy – The Interactive Process: A Handbook. More recently, Nicholas Mazza outlined a model for effective poetry therapy, also discussing its clinical application, in Poetry Therapy: Theory and Practice.

The Journal of Poetry Therapy, established in 1987 by the NAPT, remains the most comprehensive source of information on current theory, practice, and research.skeleton_hand

There is also a relationship between psychological healing and incantations; either repeated as a musical chant by the patient or in fact recited by the attending medicine man. Modern medicine and science of course scoff at the notion of magical incantations having healing or restorative powers as so much superstition. But this, of course, begs the question that if recitations and incantations had no evidential resort and no beneficial property then why would every single human culture have adopted the method and repeated it for several thousand years? Surely if there was nothing to vibrating air with the sound of one’s breath as well as the added stimulation of associative meaning being read cognitively by the patient’s mind; we would have given it and its sisters, singing and chanting aeons ago.

I am 30123926_10215993633815156_874551244336406748_nnot advocating a supernatural or spiritual causation for the effectiveness of poetry as a healing agent but rather the supra-natural mystical cause which is grounded first in human nature and behavior for which can be a myriad of imprecise explanations; none of which explain why it works.

Today, poetry therapy is practised internationally by hundreds of professionals, including poets, psychologists, psychiatrists, counsellors, social workers, educators and librarians. The approach has been used successfully in a number of settings—schools, community centers, libraries, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and correctional institutions, to name a few.

How Does Poetry Therapy Work?

As part of therapy, some people may wish to explore feelings and memories buried in the subconscious and identify how they may relate to current life circumstances.    Poetry is beneficial to this process as it can often be used as a vehicle for the expression of emotions that might otherwise be difficult to express

•Promote self-reflection and exploration, increasing self-awareness and helping individuals make sense of their world

•Help individuals redefine their situation by opening up new ways of perceiving reality

•Help therapists gain deeper insight into those they are treating

• In general, poetry therapists are free to choose from any poems they believe offer therapeutic value, but most tend to follow general guidelines.

It is recommended selected poems be concise, address universal emotions or experiences, offer some degree of hope, and contain plain language. Some poems commonly used in therapy are: “The Journey” by Mary Oliver “Talking to Grief” by Denise Levertov “The Armful” by Robert Frost “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” by William Wordsworth “Leaves of Grass” by Walt Whitman “Turtle Island” by Gary Snyder The poetry of Alan Watt, Allen Ginsberg and others.poem.brown_

Although the selection of material is often by the therapist, those being treated might be asked to bring to therapy a poem or other form of literature they identify with, as this may also provide valuable insight into their feelings and emotions.

My Technique in Poetry Therapy

A few different models of poetry therapy exist, but the  one I’ve had the most success with is a Four Phased Progression of Attention:

Recognition – Focus – Intention – Action

In the receptive/recognition phase, the poet therapist merely guides the subject to focus on their issue. The aim is to establish concentration and cognitive focus on the details of the issue which are not revealed to the poet/therapist. Only until the poet/therapist feels confident that the subject is cognitively attuned to and non verbally focussed on the problem or issue of concern that they begin to ask suggestive questions as to how the subject feels, not thinks about their subject.

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This provocation of emotion usually comes in three distinct phases of emotional content:

I. First is the one of the predicament, then the subject first becomes aware of the existence of the issue. This is the gateway phase where anticipatory feelings are registered and ideally conveyed through the prompting of the poet/therapist.

II. Then there is the full throttle stage when anticipation of the issue has given way to full experience of all emotions related to the issue. This is usually overwhelming (or it wouldn’t be “an issue” in the first place), and it is tantamount that the poet/guide leads the subject through distinct words to describe the layers of emotions experienced by the subject. Language and the use of the words is the key here because emotions always come in clusters of complexity that make it difficult for both poet/therapist and subject to distinguish and focus on underlying and suppress emotions.

“What kind of anger do you feel?”

“How would you describe your sadness”

“How much shame do you feel?

“What would you compare it to?”

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Are typical of the questions a poet therapist would ask the subject.

This is a sophisticated method of word association but rather than creating bridges between seemingly disparate words, the goal is to drill down to the core emotions about the issue by uncovering and refining the language the subject has chosen.

Achieving exactitude of description is the task at hand. The Poet/Therapist makes careful notation of everything the subject says towards describing their emotion. It is important to keep them focused and not to succumb to intellectual distraction. Thoughts are illusions, emotions are facts.

Getting the subject to correctly and precisely describe the emotional facts of the matter at hand  is the objective

III. The final phase is the exit strategy.

How do the feelings commence to recede? How does the issue recede back into the background? What are the parting emotions? Is there anxiety about the leaving? The anticipation of an issue yet unresolved? Or is the issue impermeable and subject to a rhythmic return?

Again, the subject’s wording, their adjectives, adverbs and phrases are the material of the poem.

At this point, there is usually a short break to give time for the subject to recover from the emotional transitions and for the Poet/Therapist to briefly skim their notes and begin to focus on the flow of adjectives. It is preferable if possible, to compose what amounts to a first draft, a flow of words which the poet can read back to the subject to confirm the accuracy of the flow.

At this first reading stage, it is possible to start interjecting logical bridges between the emotional descriptors. This is the creative factor unleashed. The Poet must be led by the subject to link coherent sequences between the emotional states. The poet suggests and the subject confirms or vetoes the phraseology, one line at a time.

Now we arrive at a second draft which is the property of the subject. It is their poem for which it is crucial that the subject now read the poem aloud and take ownership of its content. The subject can redraft the poem a third time in making it their own.   But the physicality of uttering the words they have chosen to express their emotional state is an act of ownership and closure.

The Poet/Therapist can either email the finished poem to the subject, hand them his/her notes or rewrite the poem into a legible form.  In any case, it is important that the Poet/Therapist ascribes the authorship of the poem to the client.  If the client is hesitant to put their name to the poem than something is lacking in the poem and must be redressed or indeed started over again.

The key to the entire exercise is freedom of expression, honesty and then refinement; exacting the poem.IMG_4323-1

Other Approaches and Other Models

The process of writing can be both cathartic and empowering, often freeing blocked emotions or buried memories and giving voice to one’s concerns and strengths. Some people may doubt their ability to write creatively, but therapists can offer to support by explaining they do not have to use rhyme or a particular structure. Therapists might also provide stem poems from which to work or introduce sense poems for those who struggle with imagery. A Poet/Therapist might also share a poem with the individual and then ask them to select a line that touched them in some way and then use that line to start their own poem.

In group therapy, poems may be written individually or collaboratively. Group members are sometimes given a single word, topic, or sentence stem and asked to respond to it spontaneously. The contributions of group members are compiled to create a single poem which can then be used to stimulate group discussion. In couples therapy, the couple may be asked to write a dyadic poem by contributing alternating lines.

The symbolic/ceremonial component involves the use of metaphors, storytelling, and rituals as tools for effecting change. Metaphors, which are essentially symbols, can help individuals to explain complex emotions and experiences in a concise yet profound manner. Rituals may be particularly effective to help those who have experienced a loss or ending, such as a divorce or death of a loved one, to address their feelings around that event. Writing and then burning a letter to someone who died suddenly, for example, may be a helpful step in the process of accepting and coping with grief.

How Can Poetry Therapy Help You?

Poetry therapy has been used as part of the treatment approach for a number of concerns, including borderline personality, suicidal ideation, identity issues, perfectionism, and grief. IMG_4328

Research shows the method is frequently a beneficial part of the treatment process. Several studies also support poetry therapy as one approach to the treatment of depression, as it has been repeatedly shown to relieve depressive symptoms, improve self-esteem and self-understanding, and encourage the articulation of feelings. Researchers have also demonstrated poetry therapy’s ability to reduce anxiety and stress in people.

Those experiencing post-traumatic stress have also reported improved mental and emotional well-being as a result of poetry therapy. Some individuals who have survived trauma or abuse may have difficulty processing the experience cognitively and, as a result, suppress associated memories and emotions.

Through poetry therapy, many are able to integrate these feelings, reframe traumatic events, and develop a more positive outlook for the future. People experiencing addiction may find poetry therapy can help them explore their feelings regarding the substance abuse, perceive drug use in a new light, and develop or strengthen coping skills.

Poetry writing may also be a way for those with substance abuse issues to express their thoughts on treatment and behavior change. Some studies have shown poetry therapy can be of benefit to people with schizophrenia despite the linguistic and emotional deficits associated with the condition. ravenskull_1x

Poetry writing may be a helpful method of describing mental experiences and can allow therapists to better understand the thought processes of those they are treating. Poetry therapy has also helped some individuals with schizophrenia to improve social functioning skills and foster more organized thought processes. It is important to note in many instances, especially in cases of moderate to severe mental health concerns, poetry therapy is used in combination with another type of therapy, not as the sole approach to treatment.

Training for Poetry Therapists Poetry therapists receive literary as well as clinical training to enable them to be able to select literature appropriate for the healing process. While there is no university program in poetry therapy, the International Federation for Biblio-Poetry Therapy (IFBPT), the independent credentialing body for the profession, has developed specific training requirements. Several studies support poetry therapy as one approach to the treatment of depression, as it has been repeatedly shown to relieve depressive symptoms, improve self-esteem and self-understanding, and encourage the expression of feelings.

Concerns and Limitations of Poetry Therapy

In spite of its widespread appeal and broad range of application, some concerns have been raised about the use of poetry therapy. Some critics have pointed out it is possible for people to analyze a poem on a purely intellectual level, without any emotional involvement. This type of intellectualization may be more likely when complex poems are used, as a person might spend so much time trying to decipher the meaning of the poem that they lose sight of their emotions and spontaneous reactions. Poems that are unoriginal or filled with clichés are unlikely to stimulate individuals on a deep emotional level or challenge them to think in ways that promote growth. Just always keep in mind that poetry therapy may have little or no value for those individuals who simply do not enjoy poetry.

The Advertising Pitch:

IMG_4325 copy

Words are the Most Powerful Magic There Is

Sometimes Your Mind Has a Will of Its Own

With PEGASUS POETRY THERAPY you can

Learn How to Read Your Own Mind!

Confusion bringing you down?

Is manic depression touching your soul?

You know what you want, but you just don’t know how to get There?

Poetry therapy is what you need when the medication, the yoga, the guided meditation, the crystals, the chakra alignment and other Somatic treatments just aren’t working.

Some things only work when you let them work:

• Restore Self-Confidence

• Achieve Closure from Painful Relationship Breakups & Lost Loved Ones

• Find a More Meaningful Direction to Your Life

• Get Unstuck and Out of Your Own Way

• Overcome Fears and Anxiety

• Control panic attacks

• Change  Addictive Behavior Patterns, like OCD

• Re-Write bad Scripts

 Recognition > Focus > Intention > Action

cc3a9851_origThere is no trick to listening to yourself and learning how choosing and rearranging your words can unlock darkened doors, de-clutter basements and clean out the attics of your life. Sometimes in merely one session.

Every Tuesday from 11:00 am until 6:30 pm at the

Inner Temple Inner Healing Center

at Eve’s Vegan Cafe 575 S. Coast Highway 101 Encinitas, CA

Contact:   realpoetrytherapy@gmail.com or

Call 858 349 6429 for an appointment.

$50- 1/2 Hour $80 – 1 Hour eve-logo

EXAMPLES & ENDORSEMENTS

PEGASUS POETRY THERAPY  has only recently launched its online version via FaceTime, Skype or Facebook video.   downloadJust add <poetry therapy> to your Skype contacts and schedule a date.   Payments accepted through PayPal or Facebook cash.  Here are some examples of the poetry achieved through PEGASUS POETRY THERAPY:

I.

Narcissus in a Nutshell

I’ve lost the person locked within the situation

Like a nut dwells within its hard shell of fearful anger.

Escaping vulnerability

Hiding from the unknown.

Hard shells, hard feelings, hardness itself

The excitement of living days in the present

Belonging to the past

I will not let go of what I can recall but not relive

My belonging to that which encompasses myself

Another nut within its shell.

To belong is to exist

Without belonging there is Nothing and

I fear nothing most of all because I do not know it

And I fear what I do not know more than

I would remedy the pain of this loss  with trustworthy tools

When two liquids are bonded  as one

A single drop of poison poisons the whole glass

And betrayal  is always poison no matter how little or how much

The glass of Narcissus’s tears is now empty

He has blinded himself rather than drink his own poison.

Instead he has left me to sip the bitter poison

Of fading better days.

Like a cat

Poised in stillness

Distracted by nothing

Ready  to pounce

I will not surrender the pain.

I will not surrender the pain.

Because the pain is my memory of the happiness

We’ve now lost

A sweet nut within a bitter shell.

II.

The Martyr

Last night I saw you beatify a martyr

With a magical brush of gold belief.

You were serious and determined

But your brush strokes were light caresses

On a sky blue span of canvass

As you gently coaxed another image into being.

You remind me of my mother earth

Stern in her compassion

Willing to tolerate just so much from me

Before reining in my love

With her brushes.

And where you have drawn your line

‘Be careful’, you said to me on parting

But all the care in the world could not stop

My bulb from bursting

Rendering me blind in the speeding night

But still seeing with the golden light

Of the martyr you have shown me.

III.

Snake Heart

This sadness, this hopelessness

Will not be swatted away

Nor drowned by the busy work

Of the day to day.

It persists

Even when I am submerged in my bathtub.

The warm water rising from the bottom of my lungs.

Until I lose the will to breath

And the sadness becomes anger

Rising to the very top of my horns

Of my red-hot raging exhaustion.

How good to be angry!

I used to be afraid of snakes but no longer.
I am hissing from the centre of my snake-heart

As you try and step over me.

Your eyes fail to see as you tread on my tail.

On my snake heart.

On my resolution without confrontation.

Without the owning of emotion

All that’s left for us is the hissing sound of machinery.