Live Virtual Group Session: 6pm EST January 18th 2021

Thank you to everyone who joined us for this session!

Our text was the poem “Praise Song for the Day” by Elizabeth Alexander, posted below.

Our prompt was “Write a praise song for struggle.”

More details will be posted on this session, so check back soon!

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.

Also, we would love to learn more about your experience of these sessions, so if you’re able, please take the time to fill out a follow-up survey of one to two quick questions!

Please join us for our next session Monday January 25th, 2021 at 6pm EST, with more times listed on our Live Virtual Group Sessions page.


Praise Song for the Day
BY ELIZABETH ALEXANDER

A Poem for Barack Obama’s Presidential Inauguration

Each day we go about our business,
walking past each other, catching each other’s
eyes or not, about to speak or speaking.

All about us is noise. All about us is
noise and bramble, thorn and din, each
one of our ancestors on our tongues.

Someone is stitching up a hem, darning
a hole in a uniform, patching a tire,
repairing the things in need of repair.

Someone is trying to make music somewhere,
with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum,
with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

A woman and her son wait for the bus.
A farmer considers the changing sky.
A teacher says, Take out your pencils. Begin.

We encounter each other in words, words
spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed,
words to consider, reconsider.

We cross dirt roads and highways that mark
the will of some one and then others, who said
I need to see what’s on the other side.

I know there’s something better down the road.
We need to find a place where we are safe.
We walk into that which we cannot yet see.

Say it plain: that many have died for this day.
Sing the names of the dead who brought us here,
who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges,

picked the cotton and the lettuce, built
brick by brick the glittering edifices
they would then keep clean and work inside of.

Praise song for struggle, praise song for the day.
Praise song for every hand-lettered sign,
the figuring-it-out at kitchen tables.

Some live by love thy neighbor as thyself,
others by first do no harm or take no more
than you need. What if the mightiest word is love?

Love beyond marital, filial, national,
love that casts a widening pool of light,
love with no need to pre-empt grievance.

In today’s sharp sparkle, this winter air,
any thing can be made, any sentence begun.
On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp,

praise song for walking forward in that light.

Copyright © 2009 by Elizabeth Alexander. All rights reserved.

Encuentros virtuales en vivo: Sábado 16 de Enero, 13:00 EST

El texto que elegimos para esta sesión fue “Proverbios y cantares (XXIX)” por Antonio Machado y “Cantares” por Joan Manuel Serrat.

“Escribe acerca de un camino.”

Por favor, únase a nosotros para nuestra próxima sesión en español, con fecha por anunciar, con más oportunidades de sesiones en otros idiomas listadas en nuestra página de sesiones grupales virtuales en vivo, así que siguenos en nuestras redes sociales!

¡Esperamos verte pronto!


Proverbios y cantares (XXIX) | Antonio Machado
Caminante, son tus huellas​
 el camino y nada más;​
 Caminante, no hay camino,​
 se hace camino al andar.​
 Al andar se hace el camino,​
 y al volver la vista atrás​
 se ve la senda que nunca​
 se ha de volver a pisar.​
 Caminante no hay camino​
 sino estelas en la mar.

Cantares | Joan Manuel Serrat
Todo pasa y todo queda​
 Pero lo nuestro es pasar​
 Pasar haciendo caminos​
 Caminos sobre la mar​
 Nunca perseguí la gloria​
 Ni dejar en la memoria​
 De los hombres mi canción​
 Yo amo los mundos sutiles​
 Ingrávidos y gentiles​
 Como pompas de jabón​
 Me gusta verlos pintarse de sol y grana​
 Volar bajo el cielo azul​
 Temblar súbitamente y quebrarse​
 Nunca perseguí la gloria​
 Caminante son tus huellas el camino y nada más​
 Caminante, no hay camino se hace camino al andar​
 Al andar se hace camino​
 Y al volver la vista atrás​
 Se ve la senda que nunca​
 Se ha de volver a pisar​
 Caminante no hay camino sino estelas en la mar​
 Hace algún tiempo en ese lugar​
 Donde hoy los bosques se visten de espinos​
 Se oyó la voz de un poeta gritar​
 Caminante no hay camino, se hace camino al andar​
 Golpe a golpe, verso a verso​
 Murió el poeta lejos del hogar​
 Le cubre el polvo de un país vecino​
 Al alejarse, le vieron llorar​
 Caminante, no hay camino, se hace camino al andar​
 Golpe a golpe, verso a verso​
 Cuando el jilguero no puede cantar​
 Cuando el poeta es un peregrino​
 Cuando de nada nos sirve rezar​
 Caminante no hay camino, se hace camino al andar​
 Golpe a golpe y verso a verso​
 Y golpe a golpe, verso a verso​
 Y golpe a golpe, verso a verso​


Live Virtual Group Session: 12pm EST January 13th 2021

Thank you to everyone who joined us for this session!

We had 24 participants of which 4 were first time attendees. The text was the painting “The Gate” by David Hockney, but the title was not revealed until the end of our close reading session.

All participants were asked to spend 2 minutes to slowly explore the artwork; then we asked them to describe their experience of engaging with the painting. Initial impressions focused on the colors (so much vibrancy and contrast) followed by a sense of closeness that made it difficult to breathe, like in mid-summer when everything is so humid and overgrown and in need of thinning out — an overwhelming aliveness. Others just felt the joyousness of wanting to play or being on vacation. One likened the feeling to being in a fairytale or taken to another land – transported. As the observations deepened (and the narrative thickened), the branches seemed to appear warped and contributed to a feeling of insecurity. The descent of the path led to both open and unopened options (Can you open the gate? Where does the path to the left lead?) and visually contributed to a warped state of mind. One person interpreted addiction/depression versus the greenery of nature. The bottom half of the painting, which is the foreground, felt constrained with a green fence on the right and a wall that insists on descent. The potted plant seemed to represent a restriction to growth. The top half of the painting showed nature yearning to reach up to the light with a tangle of branches seeking freedom. But the trunks of those same trees, in the bottom foreground, were “in your face”.  One person related this place to her time in Kenya where a gate was a symbol often of exclusion provoking the question about what is on the other side, and is it as lovely as what is on this side?

Asked to title the painting, our participants had many different ideas: Branches, Escape, Hope, Serene Chaos, Escape to Paradise, Tenuous Harmony, Go Where It Is Alive, Beyond the Gate and many more. Our final discussion question asked what this painting would leave you contemplating: We don’t control what’s around us, The Light, Confusion versus Structure and Freedom of Nature.

The group wrote to the prompt “Write about a descent,” and five writers shared their responses: “The Impostor” described an ascent/descent of someone having a near-death experience and returning to the body; we were aware of space, motion, and a feeling of being “pressed against the ceiling.” Next we heard of “so much anger, so much dissent/I yearn for a place of solitude. The third writer recognized a gate that separates us from them: “I descend towards structure but perhaps there lies madness.” The bright colors in the Hockney painting contrasted with the fourth writer/reader’s description of seven adjacent homes that generate “numerous arguments over various shades of gray/rotten cedar siding/trimmed in white holds us together.” The group discussed the literal and metaphorical of this vivid description. Closing out the session was a haiku invitation: “Garden of Eden/Perfection’s a bit boring/Go beyond the gate.”

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.

Also, we would love to learn more about your experience of these sessions, so if you’re able, please take the time to fill out a follow-up survey of one to two quick questions!

Please join us for our next session Monday January 18th 2021 at 6pm EST, with more times listed on our Live Virtual Group Sessions page.


The Gate –
David Hockney 
2000
oil on canvas
60×76 in.

Live Virtual Group Session: 6pm EST January 11th 2021

Thank you to everyone who joined us for this session!

Our text was an excerpt from the chapter “Birth” from “The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down” by Anne Fadiman, posted below.

Our prompt was a choice between “Describe a space of new beginnings” or “Write about being at ground level.”

More details will be posted on this session, so check back soon!

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.

Also, we would love to learn more about your experience of these sessions, so if you’re able, please take the time to fill out a follow-up survey of one to two quick questions!

Please join us for our next session Wednesday, January 13th at 12pm EST, with more times listed on our Live Virtual Group Sessions page.


“Birth” from “The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down” by Anne Fadiman

If Lia Lee had been born in the highlands of northwest Laos, where her parents and twelve of her brothers and sisters were born, her mother would have squatted on the floor of the house that her father had built from ax-hewn planks thatched with bamboo and grass. The floor was dirt, but it was clean. Her mother, Foua, sprinkled it regularly with water to keep the dust down and swept it every morning and evening with a broom she had made of grass and bark. She used a bamboo dustpan, which she had also made herself, to collect the feces of the children who were too young to defecate outside, and emptied its contents in the forest. Even if Foua had been a less fastidious housekeeper, her newborn babies wouldn’t have gotten dirty, since she never let them actually touch the floor. She remains proud to this day that she delivered each of them into her own hands, reaching between her legs to ease out the head and then letting the rest of the body slip out onto her bent forearms. No birth attendant was present, though if her throat became dry during labor, her husband, Nao Kao, was permitted to bring her a cup of hot water, as long as he averted his eyes from her body. Because Foua believed that moaning or screaming would thwart the birth, she labored in silence, with the exception of an occasional prayer to her ancestors. She was so quiet that although most of her babies were born at night, her older children slept undisturbed on a communal bamboo pallet a few feet away, and woke only when they heard the cry of their new brother or sister. After each birth, Nao Kao cut the umbilical cord with heated scissors and tied it with string. The Foua washed the baby with water she had carried from the stream, usually in the early phases of labor, in a wooden and bamboo pack-barred strapped to her back.

(C) 1997 Anne Fadiman All rights reserved. ISBN: 0-374-26781-2


Ζωντανή συνεδρία αφηγηματικής ιατρικής: Κυριακή 10 Ιανουαρίου, 8:30 pm EEST

Σας ευχαριστούμε που συμμετείχατε σε αυτήν τη συνεδρία.

 Ζωγραφική: “Εσωτερικό” (Τάσος Χώνιας)

Θέμα: “Γράψτε για τη φορά που μπήκατε σε/βγήκατε από ένα δωμάτιο” ή “Ζωγραφίστε ένα ιδιαίτερο δωμάτιο”

Σύντομα θα μοιραστούμε περισσότερες πληροφορίες σχετικά με αυτήν τη συνεδρία, γι ‘αυτό επιστρέψτε ξανά.

Σας προσκαλούμε να μοιραστείτε τα γραπτά σας μαζί μας παρακάτω.

Καλούμε όλες και όλους που συμμετείχατε να μοιραστείτε όσα γράψατε κατά τη διάρκεια της συνεδρίας μας παρακάτω (“Leave a reply”) και να κρατήσουμε αυτή την τόσο ενδιαφέρουσα συζήτησή μας ζωντανή, υπενθυμίζοντάς σας, βεβαίως, ότι αυτή είναι μια δημόσια πλατφόρμα και η πρόσβαση ανοιχτή στο κοινό.

Θα θέλαμε να μάθουμε περισσότερα  για την εμπειρία σας με αυτές τις συνεδρίες. Αν το επιθυμείτε, παρακαλούμε αφιερώστε λίγο χρόνο σε μια σύντομη έρευνα δύο ερωτήσεων!

Ακολουθήστε τον σύνδεσμο: https://tinyurl.com/nmedg-survey


Ζωγραφική: “Εσωτερικό” (Τάσος Χώνιας)