Archive for March, 2010
He cinches sinews of might
Around the night
And binds darkness from the light.
His unfathomable power
Exploded all matter
Into space. Still, as fighters
We deny His awesome position,
Exalting ourselves, our exposition.
We say, “He’s to blame for our fallen condition?
I will glory in who I am,
What I’ve achieved, in all I can.”
In turn he says, “You are but a man!”
I feel: my heart it beats,
I listen: my mouth it speaks,
I watch: my eyes they see.
“Do you function on your own?
As your own?
As if you own—
No. No. Nothing.
The only thing
I will knock and knock.
Can’t you hear the years tick off the clocks?
Yet you box and box,
And your Pugilism
Stealing time, all for a schism.
Poetry is more than a form of self-expression.
It can heal.
As a volunteer at a local hospital, I have written poems with children in the Children’s Emergency Department and have found that the children who contribute to creating these poems come away happier as a result.
One young lady, who had suffered a terrible injury, cried to me that she didn’t want to be alone. Her mother was caught up at work and hadn’t made it to the hospital yet. The young lady felt she had no where to turn.
As we wrote a poem together, she began to weep.
As a matter of course, I try to guide the children from a sense of loss and hurt to a place of healing. I create a rough framework for the poems, having the children state:
- Their problem/injury,
- The outcome of their healing and recovery, and
- Their dreams and aspirations.
By following this framework, I was able to process the aforementioned young lady’s loss and allow her to define what her healing and recovery would look like.
I’m not the first to use writing as therapy. Professionals like Michael White and David Epston, use writing as a therapeutic tool.
White, who is co-director of the Dulwich Centre in Adelaide, South Australia, and Epston, who is co-director of The Family Therapy Centre in Auckland, New Zealand, have written an excellent book on using writing as therapy.
Their book, “Narrative Means to Therapeutic Ends,” describes, among other subjects, using story as a mechanism for healing and gaining knowledge and power. One tool they describe, and that I have found useful in my work, is what they call “externalizing the problem.”
As the phrase subjects, “externalizing the problem” means describing the problem as an outside entity. In my work, I let the patients define the problem and own it, perhaps a slight deviation from White’s model. Still, once the patients define the problem, I let them process a positive outcome and their future aspirations.
White and Epson stress providing patients with a certificate or declaration that details the obstacle that the patient has now overcome.
In the spirit of their model, I print out a copy of the poems that the children and I write and give them a copy. I also provide a copy for the hospital staff which gives them added insight into the inner lives of the children: their fears and aspirations.
Providing all parties with a copy of these poems has served as an inspiration for all involved.
For more on White and Epson’s work, visit: http://www.narrativeapproaches.com/
Are you finding writing for the Web is an exercise in futility?
Remember information or content is the key.
Think of your own experience as a Web surfer:
You visit a site to check your bank balance, apply for a job, check the weather report – you know what you do. In the end, you’re seeking content that you can take with you. Using the Web is an interactive not a passive experience like watching TV.
That said, users are driving the process. They’re in control of finding the information they seek. So, the job of a Web content writer is to make the users’ job as easy as possible.
In her book “Letting Go of the Words,” Janice Redish presents the way Web users respond to content. According to Redish, users:
- Skim and scan,
- Read for information gathering or for performing tasks, and
- Don’t read more because: they’re too busy, find information is irrelevant, or are looking only for primary information.
To be sure, good Web writing communicates the message a business or organization wants to communicate. But in the attempt to communicate that message, the language must be speak-easy . . . not in the sense of a ’20s house of ill repute.
Redish says the language is like a conversation. This means you’re having a conversation with your audience – remember interactive, not passive. You want to speak your audience’s language so they:
- Know what you’re saying,
- Understand that you’re addressing their concerns, and
- See that you’re giving them the information they want.
Remember what you want from a Web site and provide the same for your users.
For a sample chapter from Redish’s book, you can visit her site at: http://www.redish.net/writingfortheweb/.
Bailey and I got back from running errands and went straight from the car to stroll through the neighborhood.
I tried to watch with her eyes.
Not a cloud in the sky, the blue expanse stretching overhead. We stopped and started, Bailey regarding our way, looking up at the evergreen fir trees shooting up 30 feet overhead, the trees’ deep forest green needles full on each branch.
We made our way past, and the view opened to a lake that reached off into the distance. The shadows from the trees fell across the edges of the shallows of the water. The shoreline was a glassy mirror of the budding trees. The middle of the lake was wind-whipped, static lines on the water.
Bailey turned from watching the lake and waddled ahead, her hand in mine. She began to whimper, straining her eyes in the too bright sun. She held her small hand in front of her face, but to no avail, the sun was too penetrating.
Still, she trudged on.
Finally, we made the bend in the road where the forest’s shadows fell across the road. With her left arm growing tired from reaching to adulthood, she switched hands in mine.
Then, she did something unexpected. She pulled free, wandered off the path, through the grass down an incline to the woods. She reached out her hand and shook the branch of a tree as if she were greeting an old friend. Satisfied with the handshake, she returned to me, and we walked again.
We crossed the road to the next lake, full of fowl, in our neighborhood. We sat on a bench and watched the Canadian goose arch its neck, in arabesque fashion, swim its head forward then down, dipping to taste some water, letting it spill from its beak.
In short order, Bailey climbed down from the bench. She’d had enough. Watching was for the birds.
She ambled ahead. I grabbed her hand again; we crossed the street; and made our way back onto the path. She wanted to turn back and cross the road again, but I knew that was the signal we needed to head back. She made a tiny dance of discontent in front of me, not a fit, just a tamping of feet like she was running in place.
I picked her up and walked with her some distance. A man on a riding lawn mower was shaving the grass along the sidewalk so I held her tight and kept walking. He passed then I let her down, and she waddled ahead. I grabbed her hand again and watched her shadow fall in front of us, her hand extended to mine, at my knees.
In her too long jeans, folded up, with her feet shuffling ahead, her body moving up and down, I think she is my tiny dancer, my blue jean baby, dancing in my hand.
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