Live Virtual Group Session: 2pm EDT May 23rd 2020

A combination of new and returning participants, 35 total, joined us today, representing local (including IN, PA, NJ, NY, and OH) and international (including India, Canada, the UK, and Switzerland) perspectives. 

Our text was Poem With Disabilities by Jim Ferris, posted below. Two readers read it aloud twice. One participant acknowledged that the poem made her feel vulnerable, especially in the time of the pandemic. Others echoed this sentiment, recognizing that the poem points to the fact that we are all dis/abled in some way, either because of immigration, lack of access, inability to speak other languages, etc. Participants also pointed to the accessibility of the language in the poem, making it easier for readers to enter the poem. Several participants found the first half of the poem light, even humorous, but then noted the way the poem “pivots” in the middle: with the line “you’re reading along and suddenly everything changes,” the poem itself changes, becoming “darker” and implicating the reader in a more profound, challenging way. One participant pointed to a parallel between people and poems–they don’t always behave how we want them to and they can be difficult to access, but they’re worth the trouble of trying.

Our prompt was “Write about a time when your angle of vision jumped. Four participants shared their writing, inspiring a rich array of responses from the listeners. One sharer reminded us that we can just show up and be ourselves, even if we originally had feelings of insecurity; this reader likened the Zoom gallery view to ducks in a row, forever changing how we see ourselves in a Zoom meeting. Another reader wrote how “someone switched the lenses in my eyeglasses without giving me an eye exam,” when sharing her writing about her grandfather’s sudden terminal diagnosis. Another sharer constructed a poem that included three heaps, three onlookers, and three perspectives; it was full of struggle, victory, and failure. The final reader wrote about how unprepared she really was when she recently started working as a substitute teacher, likening the concept of adolescence to the theme of the poem. As we were saying our goodbyes, one participant wrote in the chat box that today’s session was a “Happy meal for thought.” A good note to end on a rainy Saturday.

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 Wednesday, May 27th at 12pm EDT, with more times listed on our Live Virtual Group Sessions page.

We look forward to seeing you again soon!

Poems with Disabilities
         By Jim Ferris

I'm sorry—this space is reserved
for poems with disabilities. I know
it's one of the best spaces in the book,
but the Poems with Disabilities Act
requires us to make all reasonable
accommodations for poems that aren't
normal. There is a nice space just
a few pages over—in fact (don't
tell anyone) I think it's better
than this one, I myself prefer it.
Actually I don't see any of those
poems right now myself, but you never know
when one might show up, so we have to keep
this space open. You can't always tell
just from looking at them either. Sometimes
they'll look just like a regular poem
when they roll in . . . you're reading along
and suddenly everything
changes, the world tilts
a little, angle of vision
jumps, your entrails aren’t
where you left them. You
remember your aunt died
of cancer at just your age
and maybe yesterday's twinge means
something after all. Your sloppy,
fragile heart beats
a little faster
and then you know.
You just know:
the poem
is right
where it

9 thoughts on “Live Virtual Group Session: 2pm EDT May 23rd 2020

  1. Tammy Smith

    In response to the prompt: Write about a time when your angle of vision jumped.

    It’s a rainy Pandemic Saturday.
    Just one of many I’ve spent since
    the world went into shutdown mode
    participating in Zoom meetings.
    I stare at screens (gallery view) trying not to feel
    boxed in, getting my ducks in a row.

    I’ve almost gotten the hang of learning
    how to raise my hand or stay silent.

    When to reserve the space for pauses.

    We all belong here, don’t we?
    Even if I’m not a doctor or a famous poet,
    I’ve learned we all have a place.
    I don’t have to be the best or the brightest
    or the most celebrated
    to belong.

    I can just show up and be myself.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Dr Yewande Okuleye

    I love the simplicity and honesty of the spirit of this poem. We are the best and brightest when we show up as ourselves. It is the mingling of these unique energies which creates the magic. It is this charge, which gives the sense of belonging. Just as exclusion is structural and intentional, so is inclusion. We create the structures and intentions which nurture the sense of belonging

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Dr Yewande Okuleye

    Angles of connectivity

    At 30 degrees, I sense your pain.
    Now centred, at 60 degrees I stop and see your pain.
    Surprised at 90 degrees, as I listen to your pain.
    In surrender at 180 degrees, I was hit by the vulnerability of our pain.
    Coming to terms at 280 degrees – I am with you – in your pain – holding space.
    In gratitute, at 360 degrees.
    Thank you.
    Thank you for reminding me to be with my pain.
    I feel
    We feel
    They feel

    Liked by 4 people

    • I love the part “I feel We feel They feel Together Now”. The I becoming a we the a they ,and it’s all hapening now .It’s powerful and gives a sense of belonging together .Thank you for sharing .


    • The feeling of connectivity and “we” is strong. I also really like your mathematical precision & its rhythm. The closing of the circle, the circle where we all belong.


  4. The journey of life scatters its collection of peaks and valleys into our existence.
    Like riding a rollercoaster, we hang on for dear life.
    Holding our breath, as we take all that life gives us.

    When we’re riding the highs, it’s a glorious feeling.
    Everything takes on a hue of sunny yellow.
    The heart beats confidently in our chest and there is a hop in our step.
    We move confidently and there is no task that can’t be accomplished.

    But then the lows rush in on us,
    catching our breath, bringing darkness upon us.
    Our lifeblood rushes from our core.
    The world is seemingly distant, cold, unfeeling to our plight.
    Feeling alone.
    Struggling to accomplish even the smallest of tasks.

    Finally, the ride levels itself out.
    Equanimity enters our life.
    Mind and body are at equilibrium.

    And so the journey continues.
    Hold on.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. My response to today’s prompt: write about a time when your angle of vision jumped.

    As a fairly neurotypical person I generally see what I see, which isn’t saying much
    So – I don’t really understand autism or ASD – yet I need to get a more felt understanding of it
    There’s nothing like personal experience to jump in an icy shower of fresh understanding
    They taught him thus, to understand his daughter’s world: “Think of a thousand furry millipedes crawling over your bare, bare arm. How does that feel?”
    Aha aha! So that’s what it’s like, and I thought a scarf was just a scarf …

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Beams from Heaps

    [Three heaps of unwrapped trash, 3 feet high, lined along the pavement.]

    Onlooker 1: They are the source of the stench. They should be burned.
    Onlooker 2: They are the trashy proof of the lackadaisical approach of Municipality. They must be captured in the camera.
    Onlooker 3: Each is an accumulation of discarded PPEs, masks, gloves, plastic caps. Each mound represents unheard stories of struggles, victories, and failures. Calling them garbage reeks of ignorance!

    Liked by 2 people

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