Live Virtual Group Session: 6pm EDT June 8th 2020

Thank you to everyone who joined us for this session!

Together, we read the poem “The Explorer” by Gwendolyn Brooks (posted below). This text stimulated many questions about the spaces we exist in and the “quiet places” we search for, particularly in the context of our current national and international events. “We are all looking for a quiet place,” observed one of our participants, as this poem highlighted for them the interplay between the personal private to a larger, broader social context. “It’s a poem that sends the reader into spirals,” commented another participant, highlighting the mental and sensory “work” the poem requires us readers to do, as explorers “sifting through” “the fabric of life” and “the general confusion” that comes with it. Together, we explored the “complicated connotations” of the word “noises” in the first line: what kind of noises is the explorer moving through? We noted how “noise can be subjective”: what someone hears as noise could be, “music”, “dissent”, or “neutral sounds” for someone else. We experienced comfort in the “velvet peace”, and someone commented how this made us aware of the “texture of the things around us”. We found ourselves wondering about the different dimensions in which peace can be achieved, both in the exterior and the interior realms. Many of our participants were drawn to the end of this poem, “fearing the choices that cried to be taken”; as someone observed, choices are “made”, rather than “taken”. In the eyes of some of our participants, the explorer in the poem unites people to make choices together… only to find no peace and no quiet rooms to negotiate and decide the next steps of the journey.

For our writing activity, we dove further into the “choices” the poem raised for us. We wrote to the prompt “write about the choices crying to be taken.” Our readers reminded us of the feeling of smallness we may feel in front of the insurmountable height of some choices, whether in the past, in the present or the in future. “How do I move forward from this virtual time?” asked one of our readers. Throughout our dialogue, some participants shared a sense of relief at the thought that “we are not the only “ones” that have choices”, as well as the strong sense of responsibility that comes with knowing that “choices impact those around us”. At the end of our conversation, we returned to the image of the explorer, moving through the world one step and one choice at a time. In the words of our participants, we left each other having “awakened the explorer in [us], especially after spending more than 75 days in lockdown” and reminded that “we are always exploring”.

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, June 10th at 12pm EDT, with more times listed on our Live Virtual Group Sessions page.

We look forward to seeing you again soon!

- Gwendolyn Brooks (1959)

Somehow to find a still spot in the noise
Was the frayed inner want, the winding, the frayed hope
Whose tatters he kept hunting through the din.
A velvet peace somewhere.
A room of wily hush somewhere within.

So tipping down the scrambled halls he set
Vague hands on throbbing knobs. There were behind
Only spiraling, high human voices,
The scream of nervous affairs,
Wee griefs,
Grand griefs. And choices.

He feared most of all the choices, that cried to be taken.

There were no bourns.
There were no quiet rooms.

Published Harpers Magazine, September, 1959

8 thoughts on “Live Virtual Group Session: 6pm EDT June 8th 2020

  1. Sakshi

    “I see her on her balcony, staring in an abyss of curtains ,
    stained in blood and sweat,
    Lost, alone and broken, for she returned home alone that night.
    Two toddlers,
    With curly hair.
    Their father loved and loving,
    All left behind
    In corridors full, in the pile of plastic suits.
    With tastes of pills in her mouth,
    She left home alone that night.”
    Thanks for the great session.

    Liked by 3 people

    • al3793

      Sakshi, you engage so many senses in your piece. I can feel the sweat, smell the blood, taste the pills, see the abyss, but I also have my heart touched by the curly haired twin, toddlers and the loved and loving father. Andre

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Choices crying to be taken
    A choice is a burden ,a responsibility you take .
    Something you pursue with all the uneasiness you feel .
    The fear of taking the wrong detour.
    Those choices knocking at your door ,
    Demanding to be heard .
    Opening the door seems the only thing you need to do ,
    And the hardest thing to do.

    Liked by 3 people

    • al3793

      Rajae, the sharp contrast between what needs to be done and the difficulty in doing so connects me to the struggles we face so palpably today. Each must choose what we can do to make a difference. Andre


  3. al3793

    Prompt: Write about the choices crying to be taken.

    “What choices do we have?”
    I’ve heard those words so often the past 12 weeks.
    But the poet says, “there are voices crying to be taken.”
    Do I reach out somehow offering to hem-up their frayed hope?
    It’s a tough scramble these days behind the mask –
    moisture fogging our glasses so that our view is clouded
    like the haze hugging Denver, one mile high yet hard to see.

    What choices do we have but to listen carefully to the high human voices
    nervous, grieving, screaming for justice, for breath, for life, to be close?

    What choices do we have but to reach out and somehow touch their humanity?

    Thank you for another wonderful session.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. The choices crying to be taken~~~

    How do I move forward from this virtual time?
    From distant voices floating in the air?
    From one dimensional faces, devoid of form, devoid of warmth?

    Now, as I begin the slow crawl into this new world,
    hesitation and caution are the guideposts to this destination.
    My remembrances are a distant past.

    What will I think of this new world,
    so different, so foreign?
    Shall I welcome it?

    I must, for there are no alternatives.
    The world and humanity have evolved into new forms.
    I must be resilient, I must be forgiving.
    I must be trusting of this new order.
    I must not cry too loudly for the past,
    for the past is just that.

    I am at the dawn of a new day.
    A day that brings hope and rejuvenation to my life journey.
    I kneel and give thanks as I look to the heavens.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. al3793

    I love how you shift from the exploration of what you must do…”How do I move forward from this virtual time?” to what you do, “be resilient, forgiving,” to what you are, “I am the dawn of a new day.” You broker such a potent hope.

    Liked by 1 person

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