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Can Poetry be Turned into Therapy? (1 Viewer)

darrellmoneyhon

Senior Member
Sorry I haven't figured out how to make a blog yet of my collection of poems called Does it Make a Sound? The below list refers to poems not yet shared here, with the exception of Prayer and Praise, and Dash (and the latter was only shared in a response, not likely seen by anyone). Yet the below list suggests a means to help turn poems into spiritual devotions and/or psychological "therapy." Perhaps the cue words/phrases should be concealed until the reader gets his or her own impressions of "take-aways" from each poem. Then match after the fact to the poet's or third party's distillations.

Is such an intervention a bastardization of poetry, or a brand-builder of this all-but-lost artform? Can poetry be intentionally made practical without ruining it? The below is but one possible way to attempt to turn poems into therapeutic interventions aimed at exercising (and/or exorcising knots/blockages in) "mental/emotional muscles."

The challenge here is to take some of your poems and make a similar list. What issue does the poem address? What virtue does it stimulate/activate? etc.?

I shared with a spiritually-oriented counselor this first round list of cue words/phrases from my collection of poems called Does it Make a Sound? (Again, sorry I have not made a blog of it yet for you to reference):



1. (Prayer and Praise) "all-in-ness"
2. (Dash) wonder
3. (Slow Dance) flow
4. (It is Written) sense of journey
5. (Letters) healing
6. (The Stubborn Leaves) reassurance
7. (Driftwood) discernment
8. (Dust to Dust) releasing
9. (Tied) appreciation
10. (The Sun, the Moon, and the Stars) connectedness
11. (Cather’s Mitt) sense of Creation
12. (Glory) glory!
13. (Flash) intuitive knowing
14. (Good for Nothing) being present
15. (Interview with an Unused Barn) non-grasping
16. (Tree House) emergence
17. (The Dream) sensing presence
18. (The Humbled Preacher) humility
19. (The Wonders of God) fullness
20. (One Watcher, One Sun) sensing unity
21. (Temple) contemplative
22. (Eddies) “vessel-hood”
23. (Giant) overflowing
 

darrellmoneyhon

Senior Member
Number 22 on the list:




Eddies



In the park, we came upon a colorful statue

of a lady standing on a turtle.

The Native Americans got it right:

islands—whole continents—are turtles,

moving into an earthly place

and slowly migrating to the space where the “Sky Woman” lives.

All the while, animated, swirling,

expressing the Great Stream.



We came upon a tree house.

You said your preschoolers had been carefree

when climbing its ladder,

only to feel that unnerving swirling sensation on the way down.

Sometimes you managed to get them to come to grips with their fear.

Other times, you got right at their level, in the tree house.

You became their bridge to solid ground.

All the while, allowing them to be your ladder to the Sky.



We came upon a secret garden, hiding in the wild.

You said you missed it before.

So, it really was a secret!

Its crumbling brick walls were overgrown with cultivated charms,

telling about a life so gracious that it keeps on swirling

beyond its earthly containers.

All the while, your childlike enthusiasm

was the garden’s most wonderful flower.



In the park,

in your presence,

I found myself

swirling,

flowing in the Great Stream.

You, the Sky Woman;

me, the turtle.
 
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darrellmoneyhon

Senior Member
After reading it, do you feel more like a conduit or vessel? Not at all? A little more? Quite a bit more? If the latter, can you apply that sense to a life situation you are in today? Can it reframe your experience of that situation? Does it help transform your response to the situation?
 

Darkkin

WF Veterans
Poetry is a form of therapy for a lot of people. Where it gets tricky is if it is one's own work or that of another author. From a writer's standpoint, I make my own pieces when an issue becomes a hot button. From a reader's standpoint, I do not like having the fourth wall breached by a writer.

That is why things like devotionals and guided journals irritate me. I don't want my reading media saying: Hey this is the direction you have to go with this in order to understand it in any form. Too much hand in the head interference from an author.

Examples of noninvasive writers who are effective. Kahlil Gibran and his classic book The Prophet, Aesop and his Fables, Mary Oliver and her book Owls and Other Fantasies, Mackey's The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse.

Their lessons are soft, the format simple and inviting. It is not a this is how you have to read this book and if you miss word X means Definition M then you missed the entire point and need to try harder.

No two people take away the same thoughts from reading the same piece. Trying to force a desired outcome actually flies in the face of therapy's purpose, which is to help on process a trauma/issue and move forward.

Plop a list in front of someone and say do it this way to fix problem XYZ and some folks are going to say, 'No thank you, that doesn't work for me because I feel Q.' It becomes homework and a chore they dread.

For others it will work just fine...

Want to know if the concept of a piece is clear.

POST TO THE WORKSHOP. DO NOT ADD: explanatory text of what the reader should find on their way through. What your process was. That muddies the waters and opinions. Let the piece itself actually take the weight it was desired to hold.
 
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darrellmoneyhon

Senior Member
Poetry is a form of therapy for a lot of people. Where it gets tricky is if it is one's own work or that of another author. From a writer's standpoint, I make my own pieces when an issue becomes a hot button. From a reader's standpoint, I do not like having the fourth wall breached by a writer.

That is why things like devotionals and guided journals irritate me. I don't want my reading media saying: Hey this is the direction you have to go with this in order to understand it in any form. Too much hand in the head interference from an author.

Examples of noninvasive writers who are effective. Kahlil Gibran and his classic book The Prophet, Aesop and his Fables, Mary Oliver and her book Owls and Other Fantasies, Mackey's The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse.

Their lessons are soft, the format simple and inviting. It is not a this is how you have to read this book and if you miss word X means Definition M then you missed the entire point and need to try harder.

No two people take away the same thoughts from reading the same piece. Trying to force a desired outcome actually flies in the face of therapy's purpose, which is to help on process a trauma/issue and move forward.

Plop a list in front of someone and say do it this way to fix problem XYZ and some folks are going to say, 'No thank you, that doesn't work for me because I feel Q.' It becomes homework and a chore they dread.

For others it will work just fine...

Want to know if the concept of a piece is clear.

POST TO THE WORKSHOP. DO NOT ADD: explanatory text of what the reader should find on their way through. What your process was. That muddies the waters and opinions. Let the piece itself actually take the weight it was desired to hold.
Very good points. Liked "No two people take away the same thoughts from reading the same piece. Trying to force a desired outcome actually flies in the face of therapy's purpose, which is to help on process a trauma/issue and move forward."

Yes, there must be measures to prompt the reader to explore, reflect, and process-- not merely follow someone else's advise/expertise. Mere following is, for the most part, worthless. And may well be leading the increasing unpopularity of organized religion.

If poetry has the potential to be therapeutic, it must invite the reader to match the content to his/her inner "goings-on." Try this on for size. Does it fit, resonate?
The potentially therapeutic poem must have enough openness to invite the reader to the "dance."

Yet, in the vein of Carl Jung's "archetypes," certain types of dances are performed over and over again. As fresh and creative as a particular dance may seem, it replicates a fairly predictable pattern which might help the dancer dance more effectively. Accordingly, there is still a need for good dance instructors. Poets could be effective "dance instructors."

Wisdom looms large. Much larger than mere "answers" or "formulas." Are the archetypes adequately perceived and then channeled? In a manner that allows them to subtly rearrange the reader?

Authenticity looms large too. If a poet actually lived through a particular life situation and honestly gained insights and true wisdom from that situation, then the suggested "dance steps" may come across as both more relevant and friendlier. They are the result of sharing of the "human experience," rather than a mere "how-to" manual.

Poems that are closer to being a personal poetic journal, inspired by direct life experiences, could sincerely suggest without exactly telling. Role modeling is not bossing. Role modeling suggests a certain approach. It can be modeled, emulated, or not. If the poet speaks what he or she feels to be true, and it is in the context of a sincere journal entry, then is more of a modeled thought than it is a absolutely correct answer. It is the experiencer's best shot at distilling the essential take-away from the experience. The reader is free to decide for himself or herself whether, or to what degree, the poet/experiencer got it right.

The poet is the main poem. Simply show THAT.
 

Darkkin

WF Veterans
Consider what you as an author what the identity of a project to be. If it is designed to teach, maybe a nonfiction guided journal type approach might be a better fit, but frame it as poetry, readers read it in the context of their own experiences and the author has absolutely no say on what or how the reader takes away from the exercise.
 

darrellmoneyhon

Senior Member
You said that "guided journals" irritate you. I tend to like them. I want guides. I'll go my own way whenever I think they're going the wrong direction. In the meantime, I like exploring what they lead me to.

The fact that guided journals irritate you may be the main reason we don't see eye to eye. But I enjoy our discussions anyway. They make me think.

What do you think of matching exercises? Matching one's own thoughts and experiences against a menu of others' ? More like a multiple choice format than essay.

I like multiple choice. I like to match. I probably even prefer menus over buffets. I don't really invest in, read, novels. I prefer plenty of books offering information, including theories, philosophies. And poems that give me dreamlike "information."
 

darrellmoneyhon

Senior Member
Consider what you as an author what the identity of a project to be. If it is designed to teach, maybe a nonfiction guided journal type approach might be a better fit, but frame it as poetry, readers read it in the context of their own experiences and the author has absolutely no say on what or how the reader takes away from the exercise.
That sounded good to me. The notion of a nonfiction guided journal "framed" as poetry. I think that is sound advice to me. Especially, since I am bent on going that direction anyway!

Say, but preface that it is just me saying. Take it with a grain of salt. See if it resonates with you/reader. Does it match your own experiences? Did you have similar "take-aways" from your experiences? Show and tell.

Still not entirely clear how I achieve that effect, the format. But that is the type of writing I am probably best suited for.

Would love any examples of how to let the reader know that a poetic guided journal is the product I am offering here. How to best inform the reader of the nature of this poetry, and to, say: "If you're okay with that, read on!" To achieve informed consent.

Simply introduce the work that way? "This is a poetic guided journal." ? How would you set it up if you were so inclined to write in that fashion (which you aren't!)?
 
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Darkkin

WF Veterans
I'm austic with ADHD, thusly, my brain works very differently than a NT brain. (We are talking major niche opinion.) For one thing it is faster and its logic makes leaps NTs have trouble following. Because my brain is fast and flexible, I don't like being told I have to take point X away from piece Y.

That is a completely passive learning process. This is why I do not like things like planners, workbooks, or guided journals. They are so limited in their scope that it does not require effort and my brain won't engage in the predetermined line of thought. This is why as a reader, I devour fiction, science, psychology, true crime, and history. It is just my preference as a reader. I like to arrive at my own conclusions.

None of it is a predetermined format. But given the market, there are a lot of people who love those types of things. They find fulfillment in completing things like this as part of a group.

Personal growth and devotionals are two of the most requested subjects in our bookshop.
 
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darrellmoneyhon

Senior Member
Yes, Perhaps there is a niche for my preacher-like or teacher-like poetry. But I hope my preaching or teaching is never read as anything other than a potentially useful pointer. Even if the content at times appears definitive, I'd rather it be understood as pontification, a viewpoint that I simply report as the best truth I can discern at this time, a personal truth to be held up against the truths the reader senses. "Does my truth fit your truth?"
Glad to hear there is a demand for devotional-like works. Hopefully my poetry can be offered, read, and utilized that way.
Thanks for the "best wishes" tone of your communications, even if my style is not your preferred style.
Darrell
 

PiP

Staff member
Co-Owner
Sorry I haven't figured out how to make a blog yet of my collection of poems called Does it Make a Sound?
Darrell, here is a simple step-by-step guide on how to create a WF Blog

Yet the below list suggests a means to help turn poems into spiritual devotions and/or psychological "therapy."
Perhaps the cue words/phrases should be concealed until the reader gets his or her own impressions of "take-aways" from each poem. Then match after the fact to the poet's or third party's distillations.
Is such an intervention a bastardization of poetry, or a brand-builder of this all-but-lost artform? Can poetry be intentionally made practical without ruining it? The below is but one possible way to attempt to turn poems into therapeutic interventions aimed at exercising (and/or exorcising knots/blockages in) "mental/emotional muscles."
Can a poet intentionally create poetry that connects spiritually or psychologically with the reader so the poems are didactic or do they let their own emotions flow through the pen onto paper? As a reader, I no longer strive to interpret the poet's words but savour them. Distil words by sound, texture and rhythm. How they make me feel at that moment in time.
@Darkkin sums it up perfectly
readers read it in the context of their own experiences and the author has absolutely no say on what or how the reader takes away from the exercise.

However, writing poetry (for me) is useful as either psychological therapy or as a spiritual connection with nature (not God).
This is a poem I wrote a while back.


The challenge here is to take some of your poems and make a similar list. What issue does the poem address? What virtue does it stimulate/activate? etc.?

I shared with a spiritually-oriented counselor this first round list of cue words/phrases from my collection of poems called Does it Make a Sound? (Again, sorry I have not made a blog of it yet for you to reference):



1. (Prayer and Praise) "all-in-ness"
2. (Dash) wonder
3. (Slow Dance) flow
4. (It is Written) sense of journey
5. (Letters) healing
6. (The Stubborn Leaves) reassurance
7. (Driftwood) discernment
8. (Dust to Dust) releasing
9. (Tied) appreciation
10. (The Sun, the Moon, and the Stars) connectedness
11. (Cather’s Mitt) sense of Creation
12. (Glory) glory!
13. (Flash) intuitive knowing
14. (Good for Nothing) being present
15. (Interview with an Unused Barn) non-grasping
16. (Tree House) emergence
17. (The Dream) sensing presence
18. (The Humbled Preacher) humility
19. (The Wonders of God) fullness
20. (One Watcher, One Sun) sensing unity
21. (Temple) contemplative
22. (Eddies) “vessel-hood”
23. (Giant) overflowing
I like this idea from the writer's POV but will the poems resonate in the same way for the reader?

For example, Eddies took me on a journey of life's lessons is that vessel-hood? Not heard of the term before.

I would love to read the other poems on the list.
 

darrellmoneyhon

Senior Member
Sorry I haven't figured out how to make a blog yet of my collection of poems called Does it Make a Sound? The below list refers to poems not yet shared here, with the exception of Prayer and Praise, and Dash (and the latter was only shared in a response, not likely seen by anyone). Yet the below list suggests a means to help turn poems into spiritual devotions and/or psychological "therapy." Perhaps the cue words/phrases should be concealed until the reader gets his or her own impressions of "take-aways" from each poem. Then match after the fact to the poet's or third party's distillations.

Is such an intervention a bastardization of poetry, or a brand-builder of this all-but-lost artform? Can poetry be intentionally made practical without ruining it? The below is but one possible way to attempt to turn poems into therapeutic interventions aimed at exercising (and/or exorcising knots/blockages in) "mental/emotional muscles."

The challenge here is to take some of your poems and make a similar list. What issue does the poem address? What virtue does it stimulate/activate? etc.?

I shared with a spiritually-oriented counselor this first round list of cue words/phrases from my collection of poems called Does it Make a Sound? (Again, sorry I have not made a blog of it yet for you to reference):



1. (Prayer and Praise) "all-in-ness"
2. (Dash) wonder
3. (Slow Dance) flow
4. (It is Written) sense of journey
5. (Letters) healing
6. (The Stubborn Leaves) reassurance
7. (Driftwood) discernment
8. (Dust to Dust) releasing
9. (Tied) appreciation
10. (The Sun, the Moon, and the Stars) connectedness
11. (Cather’s Mitt) sense of Creation
12. (Glory) glory!
13. (Flash) intuitive knowing
14. (Good for Nothing) being present
15. (Interview with an Unused Barn) non-grasping
16. (Tree House) emergence
17. (The Dream) sensing presence
18. (The Humbled Preacher) humility
19. (The Wonders of God) fullness
20. (One Watcher, One Sun) sensing unity
21. (Temple) contemplative
22. (Eddies) “vessel-hood”
23. (Giant) overflowing
Thanks Pip and Robert for the likes. Like the notion of searching for something from each poem that the reader can apply to daily living?
 

darrellmoneyhon

Senior Member
Darrell, here is a simple step-by-step guide on how to create a WF Blog



Can a poet intentionally create poetry that connects spiritually or psychologically with the reader so the poems are didactic or do they let their own emotions flow through the pen onto paper? As a reader, I no longer strive to interpret the poet's words but savour them. Distil words by sound, texture and rhythm. How they make me feel at that moment in time.
@Darkkin sums it up perfectly


However, writing poetry (for me) is useful as either psychological therapy or as a spiritual connection with nature (not God).
This is a poem I wrote a while back.



I like this idea from the writer's POV but will the poems resonate in the same way for the reader?

For example, Eddies took me on a journey of life's lessons is that vessel-hood? Not heard of the term before.

I would love to read the other poems on the list.
I recently also shared Letters , a poem inspired from my grief process after my mom died this spring. Vessel-hood was just a made-up word, neologism to indicate feeling like you are a vessel of something greater/beyond. St Francis' prayer of "Lord, make me an instrument of they peace..." would be an example of feeling like a vessel. The biblical reference of "jars of clay" is also an example. As a school bus driver/poet, I wrote a simple poem about how we are not just stand alone "cars," but "busses" that "move" other people. We are vessels of influence, change. For the better or for the worse. If we realize it, then we might better use "vessel-hood" for good. If we realize that we are "eddies." The novel/movie "A River Runs Through It" realized it.
 

darrellmoneyhon

Senior Member
So like parables?
Yes. Never even thought of "parables." But yes, I think so. Or at least parallel-bles! What in the poem parallels experiences and emotions you are dealing with in life? In Eddies, my "Sky Woman" wife reminded me of how love flows through and sustains me.
 
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