Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Nothing Stays Silent

Anyone who attended our Annual General Meeting in May saw firsthand the exceptional work that is being produced in our Friday morning poetry writing group. Led by local poet Dvora Levin, we spend two hours every week learning poetry techniques and styles, hearing works by other poets, challenging ourselves to be free of the confines of our ‘logical brains’ and unleashing our creativity. We spend the first half of the class writing, working on a different “assignment” from Dvora each week. During the second half of the class, we read, discuss and critique our poems. The results are sometimes poignant, sometimes funny and always provocative poems that speak to themes such as love, pain, joy, fear and resilience. The poets are brave, imaginative and deeply supportive of one another.

Inevitably, upon starting classes, the participants have one of two responses to the news that they’ll be joining a poetry writing group on Fridays; it’s either “Oh great! I love writing!” or, “Are you kidding? I don’t know anything about writing poetry.” But it has sometimes been the most reluctant converts who produce the most passionate work. “The workshop has allowed me to express thoughts, feelings and words that have previously been unknown and unheard,” wrote participant Neela* about her experience attending the group, and others have echoed her opinion: “I was afraid of writing before but now I really like it,” wrote Mariane*, and Janis* added that, “We discover together the potential to be and do anything we individually imagine.” As a co-facilitator, I have been astounded many times by the creativity that seems to lie just below the surface in each one of our participants, and by the confidence that they display, and then further build, by getting to create and share their work. It’s not just about the poetry, either. Friday classes can be about processing difficult emotions, sharing life-altering experiences and building trust within the group.

A couple months ago, we started talking about how to get the word about our poetry out into the community, and the result of those conversations has been two projects. The first, a “chapbook,” or small booklet, is an anthology of poems produced in the class that the participants have decided to distribute around the community to places where there are waiting and/or reading spaces (community agencies, coffee shops, etc). The chapbook, which the participants named Nothing Stays Silent - Peerless Poetry, will introduce the project to the broader community, promote poetry-reading in public spaces, and will let readers know how they can support PEERS. It is also a precursor to our next project, a lined writing journal, that will be produced and sold in the new year. The journal will be decorated with participant-made cover and will contain participants’ poems scattered throughout. Keep your eyes peeled for them; they’re due out in the Spring.

In the meantime, Cowichan Bay artist Kristine Payton (
http://paton-place.com/) has generously donated a number of luscious writing journals that she produced entitled “Big Beautifuls – Journal For the Self” that we’re selling along with a copy of the Nothing Stays Silent poetry chapbook as a bonus. They make excellent holiday gifts for your loved ones. Please support Elements and contact us to get yours!
*names have been changed for privacy

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