On Tuesday I attended the first session of the Poet in the Community Program. These sessions are described as a space to explore issues that are relevant and important to you as an individual through the means of creative writing. As an English major, I’ve always been fascinated by poetry in all its forms – from sonnets to haikus and I was really excited to be able to engage with the genre in this way. This particular series within the program is entitled “The Courage to Connect” and is focused on finding and exploring the concept and “spirit of connection,” especially in light of the past two years of change, challenge and at times isolation as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The session was conducted by Ronna Bloom, who leads the Poet in the Community Program and is a writer, a registered psychotherapist and an author of prose and poetry. She began the session by inviting us to get in touch with our emotions surrounding sharing and being vulnerable through our writing. Some people said they felt confused, simultaneously excited and apprehensive, feeling and yet not feeling, all of which certainly encompassed how I myself was feeling about the idea of sitting with my own thoughts and moreover creating a piece of writing borne from those ideas.
We wrote freely for five minutes, even if we had nothing to say we were told to just keep writing “I’m stuck” until something else came to mind, which I thought was a really amazing way to prevent feelings of despondence and keep the writing process going. Her five rules for writing: don’t think, keep your hand moving, don’t censor, write anything and feel free not to share are tips that I will carry with me as I continue my own personal writing practice.
We then engaged in a mix of reading poetry and sharing some of our written work. Central to this practice was a consideration of many of the different struggles that have been experienced during the pandemic, and even now as we begin to emerge out of it, all while constantly working to touch our own internal emotions that sometimes go unrecognized, expressing them in our writing exercises and discussions of the readings we did together. Hearing concerns similar to your own expressed vocally or in writing, sometimes seemingly said better than you could yourself, truly created a space of connection and that was healing, comforting, grounding and eye-opening.
My experience at this Poet in the Community session was so inspiring. I don’t have the opportunity to write much outside of an academic context due to the demands of school and so, being able to find a space to not only express myself creatively, but also to engage with my own subconscious and get in back in touch with myself through the practice of writing was cathartic. I would definitely recommend attending this series to anyone with a passion for writing, looking for a safe and encouraging space to develop and share their skills and to anyone who is searching for a way to engage meaningfully with their own internal thoughts creatively, through a new medium, such as poetry.