Live Virtual Group Session: 7pm EDT May 7th 2020

A warm thank you to everyone who joined us this Thursday for our session! We welcomed many familiar faces and many new faces from across the country and the globe.

Despite the physical distances that may have separated us, we were able to form a close-knit group in our virtual space and dive into a close reading of Danez Smith’s “a note on the body,” posted below. Participants discussed how bodies are regarded and treated, and how their dignity and privacy must be maintained, especially during the current healthcare crisis. Participants also commented on the distinction between “the body” and “your body,” and how the self inhabits the body and lives through it. We discussed how the text can be seen as an anthem to the critically ill patient, a testament to the struggle between body and identity in the context of illness, or a description of illness as a betrayal of the flesh. Participants were struck by the presence of the blank spaces in the poem, and how this forces the reader to confront the poem in a particular way. We also pondered whether the speaker of the poem was speaking to his/her/their self or to an audience, or both.

During the writing portion of our session, participants wrote to the prompt: “Write a note to yourself beginning with ‘you have all you need’”. This prompt led participants to consider the weight of illness on the body, and how those with Covid are somehow regarded and treated as different from bodies with other illnesses. Participants wrote about how the body is related to both the inside and outside, how it has both an interior existence and an exterior existence. Several participants drew from the poem’s tone and incorporated the self-referential aspect, writing as if talking to themselves in a nurturing way. Others played with satiety, identity, and popular culture references. 

Participants are warmly encouraged to share what you wrote below (“Leave a Reply”), to keep the conversation going here, bearing in mind that the blog of course is a public space where confidentiality is not assured.

Please join us for our next session: Saturday, May 9th at 7pm EDT, with more times listed on our Live Virtual Group Sessions page.

We look forward to seeing you again soon!

a note on the body
Danez Smith

your body still your body
your arms still wing
your mouth still a gun
          you tragic, misfiring bird
you have all you need to be a hero
don’t save the world, save yourself
you worship too much & you worship too much
when prayer doesn’t work:      dance, fly, fire
this is your hardest scene
when you think the whole sad thing might end
but you live      oh, you live
everyday you wake you raise the dead
          everything you do is a miracle

From Don’t Call Us Dead (Graywolf Press, 2017) Copyright © 2017 by Danez Smith. 

15 thoughts on “Live Virtual Group Session: 7pm EDT May 7th 2020

  1. Kana (Kanako Kitamoto)

    You have all you need to be yourself.
    Write down your name on a piece of white paper.
    As big as possible.
    As clearly as possible.
    Read it aloud.
    Read it aloud once more.
    Listen to your voice.
    Touch the letters.
    Feel the air around it.
    It is all you.
    Always with you.
    You are here.
    You are living here in this moment.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you Kana for this beautiful piece .While listening to your piece and reading it again here ,I imagined myself writing my name and reading it aloud ,It’s so peaceful to do so ,similar to a meditation session .Thank you again for sharing it .


      • Kana (Kanako Kitamoto)

        Thank you very much, Rajae. Your words made me calm and happy. By the way, I love your name 🙂 Very beautiful!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. You have all you need .
    Your life is made of your own choices,
    but you struggle in accepting the result.
    Always comparing yourself to others
    How worthy of praise their life seems
    Vilifying yourself ,
    and praising the goodness of the other.
    Bringing down all the efforts and progression you’ve made so far
    While knowing that you have all you need.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kana (Kanako Kitamoto)

      I was so sorry to hear about your struggle, but I received your hope in your narrative. The significance of the line, “You have all you need” is changing through your story. The one which was once a burden for you has become your hope and freedom. You have the freedom to love your efforts and progression now. It’s amazing how your short piece illustrates such a delicate but certain change.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dr Yewande Okuleye

      Thanks for sharing. This struggle is real. We are socialised to compare ourselves with others. It starts with the comparative analysis of our abilities in school. We take this false thinking with us through life and this malaise does not serve us. I think most of us are on the journey of unlearning this toxic habit. “While knowing that you have all you need” is the mantra. we should adopt to unlearn this social conditioning.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I am here.
    The mind is clear or as clear as it can be.

    Watching my family grow and expand.
    Pride abounds, the heart is full.
    Eyes wide open to enjoy the gifts,
    gifts that are liberally bestowed.

    Pondering how the day is to be spent,
    the energy used.
    Picking the battles, fighting the war but knowing when to retreat.
    My compass pointing me forward,
    directing me to safe ground.

    Although illness is an unwelcomed visitor,
    its existence is acknowledged,
    and given its space at the table.
    It speaks in hushed tones and sits aloof.

    Faith sustains and bolsters the spirit,
    keeping it strong for the long march.
    Committment not deterred.
    I have all I need,
    and more.

    Liked by 1 person

    • al3793

      Michele, I hear a realistic, considerate yet courageous voice. I see a courage undaunted by daily circumstance, even the unwanted or challenging. I sense a spirit that finds a way to refuel realizing that it has was it needs, what is needed presents itself when needed. Andre


  4. Dr Yewande Okuleye

    have all you need, to stand alone.
    One mind
    One spirit
    One body
    Nothing, you have is on loan

    own your destiny.

    So, travel the unknown.
    It leads


    Liked by 1 person

    • Kana (Kanako Kitamoto)

      What a wonderful piece! You beautifully created a space for you here. I was deeply moved by the part, “So, travel the unknown. It leads you back to you.” I was almost crying to hear your voice and pause. Very touching and encouraging.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Dr Yewande Okuleye

        Thank you so much for your comment and your sensitivity to the spirit of the piece. Your feedback gives me such a warm feeling; knowing these words have touched you in a positive way.


  5. al3793

    Response to: A Note on the Body by Danez Smith

    You have all you need –
    You’ve been given so much – a good mind,
    lots of energy, the presence to push on
    in the face of struggle, vision that
    lets you see the eyes of the heart
    before you and the capacity to
    connect with those visions.

    Words, words that often bring tears
    Touching a humanity longing to be touched
    but guarded humanity touched by pain guards itself,
    yet wants connection, tests, doesn’t trust,
    or maybe will trust, for a moment,
    connecting with eyes searching
    for hearts to be healed.


    Liked by 2 people

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