I am weary, weary tonight. I am tired of not being able to earn enough from my creativity and of trying to balance creativity time against money earning time. The struggle goes on. I would like to find that equilibirum before I completely run out of steam. Uncluttered hours to write, each week I keep promising myself more of them and each week I fail to deliver, instead snatching the odd moment from here and from there.
A Haiku fits in with the time spent on the Hull to Scarborough train
Rash poppies scatter sharp green blades, innocence lost in a scarlet blush.
One of my poems, chosen and designed into a poster during the TONIC organised poetry residency with Char March at Leeds teaching hospitals 2007/08. Along with other posters, this one will be displayed in hospital waiting rooms around the Leeds Trust area.
It is a strange time to be starting out: mid life, mid year, muddling through. The main impetus for beginning this blog is that finally, after many years of trying to engineer it myself, I have been given the opportunity to be a Poet in Residence. In today's society there are few - if any - jobs open to a poet and a residency is surely the most exciting, challenging and fulfilling.
I have been taken on by the voluntary organisation Hospital Arts in North East Yorkshire to work in three palliative care settings, two in local hospitals and one in a hospice. North Eastern poet, Julia Darling, said in a Guardian article that, "Poetry can help to make you better. Poetry is essential, not a frill or a nicety. It comes to all of us when we most need it. As soon as we are in any kind of crisis, or anguish, that is when we reach out for poetry, or find ourselves writing a poem for the first time."
I have discovered this through my own experience of depression and I have seen it be true for others who are suffering in many different ways. However, it is not always evident for everyone to reach for a poem or a pen when they are hurting. Education often teaches people that writing, and especially poetry, is difficult, hard to understand, it is about complicated words, fancy phrasing, rhyme and is somehow divorced from the everyday experience. On the contrary, for me, poetry is absolutely about how we live our lives today. It is about what comes from our hearts, about word sounds which sing or wail or scream exactly as we would want to do, if we could only find our voice.
Generally when I start working with an individual or with a group, I ask for a favourite word from everyone. When they share that word I ask them to explain why it is special to them. Sometimes it is the meaning or the sound of the word, sometimes it is connected to a memory or a person they are particularly fond of, sometimes it expresses a wish or a hope or a comfort. In the explanation, everyone is already germinating a poem.
One woman recently said rather shamefacedly, "What came to mind was the word 'duvet', but I was trying to come up with something more fancy." There was no need, duvet is fancy enough for any poem. Along with its gentle sound, it holds many an image of peaceful sleep, warmth and drowsy lie-ins.
Despite my experience and skills, it is scary starting out. I doubt, I worry, I undermine myself, as many do when embarking on a new venture. However, at some level, even when I am unsure of myself, I know I can and must trust the poetry.
Pathways Through Writing Blocks in the Academic Environment
A new book by Kate Evans exploring creative ways for overcoming blocks to writing especially for those working in the academic environment. Aimed at students with essays, theses and reports to write, academics with articles or books they want to get out there and supervisors supporting anyone who is having a hard time putting words on the paper. See http://www.sensepublishers.com/ & www.amazon.co.uk
Healing Words: six linked one day workshops exploring creative writing
Aimed at writers working in therapeutic environments or with vulnerable groups or health professionals who want to bring writing into their practice. Themes covered: storytelling; poetry; metaphor; embodied writing. Dates: Saturdays in 2013, 9th March, 1st June, 27th July, 21st September, 23rd November and 18th January 2014. Participants can do all six or choose to attend specific ones. Workshops will be held in Scarborough, North Yorkshire. Continuing Professional Development hours will be awarded. Tutor: Kate Evans, writer, UKCP registered counsellor and Lapidus member. For more information, please contact Kate on firstname.lastname@example.org.
All the poetry & writing in this blog, copyright Kate Evans, unless otherwise indicated. All rights reserved. For comments, questions or permissions please use email from my website: http://www.writingourselveswell.co.uk/.
Photos by Mark Vesey
Many of the names used in this blog have been changed and the dates & places of events have been disguised in order to preserve confidentiality.
I am a writer and a UKCP registered psychotherapeutic counsellor. I facilitate writing workshops. I am personally and professionally interested in the link between creativity and good mental health.
Visit my website: www.writingourselveswell.co.uk
Poetry The Peasholm Magic Lantern, Coastival 2009
Haiku & photo exhibition, Nutmeg Cafe, 2010
Words in My Head, Woodend, Coastival 2011
Books Contribution to Writing Works, a resource hadnbook for therapeutic writing workshops and activities eds Gillie Bolton, Victoria Field & Kate Thompson. Jessica Kingsley Publishers. 2006.
Articles The Poetry of Therapy, Therapy Today, December 2009 (reprinted Counselling Today NZ)
Outside Life: Edith Sitwell, Poetry News, Winter 2010
Writer's Block: a reflective literature review, The European Journal of Qualitative Research, Summer 2011
The chrysalis and the butterfly: a phenomenological study of one person's writing journey, Journal of Applied Arts & Health 2011
'Finding the unexpected': an account of a writing group for women with chronic pelvic pain (co-authored with Dr Lesley Glover), Journal of Poetry Therapy May 2012