Live Virtual Group Session: 12PM EDT June 18th 2021

Thank you to everyone who joined for this session!

For this session we watched the short film for Lady Gaga’s 911”, posted below.

Our prompt for this session was: “Draw or describe the beautiful places where you keep yourself.

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

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 June 21st at 6pm EDT, with more times listed on our Live Virtual Group Sessions page.



Live Virtual Group Session: 6PM EDT June 14th 2021

Thank you to everyone who joined for this session!

Our text for this session was the poem the death of fred clifton” by Lucille Clifton, posted below.

Our prompt for this session was: “Write about a moment of clarity.”

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

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 Friday June 18th at 12pm EDT, with more times listed on our Live Virtual Group Sessions page.


the death of fred Clifton

11/10/84
age 49

i seemed to be drawn
to the center of myself
leaving the edges of me
in the hands of my wife
and i saw with the most amazing
clarity
so that i had not eyes but
sight,
and, rising and turning,
through my skin,
there was all around not the
shapes of things
but oh, at last, the things
themselves.



Lucille Clifton
Blessing the Boats: New and Selected Poems, 1988-2000

Live Virtual Group Session: 11Am EDT June 12th 2021

Thank you to everyone who joined for this session!

Our text for this session was the poem Spring” by Maya C. Popa, posted below.

Our prompt for this session was: “Write about time passing.”

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

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 June 14th at 6pm EDT, with more times listed on our Live Virtual Group Sessions page.


"Spring" by Maya C. Popa


Time persists, yes, I can see there are new branches.

The grass, first in a line of transformations,
seemingly risen overnight.

Color is pouring back into the hours,
or forgiveness, whatever the case may be.

With one decisive tug at the earth, the robin’s drawn forth
a shimmering worm,

with such precision, it is almost a cruel pleasure.

This, the nightmare we dreamed but did not wake from.

Time is passing, I concede. A squirrel leaps
from one branch to another.

A hawk studies the field at dusk.

The park announces the season over and over
to no one,

and the silence cranes to listen.

Terraces of light now that the day is longer.

When joy comes, will I be ready, I wonder.


Live Virtual Group Session: 6pm EDT June 10th 2021

Thank you to everyone who joined for this session!

Our text for this session was the poem Another Night at Sea Level” by Meg Day, posted below.

Our prompt for this session was: “Write about a time you welcomed an adventure.”

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

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 Saturday June 12th at 11am EDT, with more times listed on our Live Virtual Group Sessions page.


Another Night at Sea Level” by Meg Day


On the third day, I wrote to you
about the sky, its elastic way
of stretching so ocean-wide
that the only way to name it
was to compare it to Montana’s.
Lately, the sky is a ceiling
I wake to: broad & blank
& stubborn, stiff at the edges
like a fever cloth wrung out
& gone cold in the night, damp
with the wicking of latent ache.
But tonight I was walking
home along the coastline
& caught the huge moon
in my throat. There’s a man
somewhere on the planet
who has been to that moon,
who has stepped out of that sky,
& will never sleep the same
because of it. Will always be
sad or feel small, or wonder
how it is a person can be
a person, if being a person
is worrying about things;
whose eyes cannot see
what things are, but only
the slightness of them.
I think of writing to you
in this way—welcoming
the adventure of it—
& of being wrecked
proper, of being ruined.

Live Virtual Group Session: 12pm EDT June 9th 2021

Thank you to everyone who joined for this session!

Today our session had 18 participants from across the globe and included two new attendees to the Narrative Medicine virtual workshop sessions. We introduced the painting School of Beauty, School of Culture by Kerry James Marshall for 5 minutes of “close reading”. Participants were invited to first observe and then to take down some notes about what they were experiencing. The first discussion question asked, “As we enter this painting, where are we and what’s going on here?” 

One participant said it was a place that celebrates the beauty of hair – its natural texture and color, which recalled government policies that seek to limit or protect the freedom of expression. There is a sense of community and enjoyment in the pursuit of this expression of confident beauty, and the painting sparks feelings of joy and community. Additional comments observed the festive colors and reflective light, evoking a party atmosphere with dancing. Others observed a portrait of Rosa Parks on the wall, as well as another poster that might be subverting the idea of what beauty is due to its exaggerated features. 

A question arose about an object in the center lower half of the painting that looked like a bird, a spill of yellow color, oddly shaped and undefined. Someone thought it might be a blanket, perhaps dropped by one of the two children in the foreground, who are interacting with it. Or could it be a symbol of marketed beauty in the form of a “princess blanket” depicting a blonde haired, white-skinned fairytale girl? Or was it, in fact, a reflected image on the window of a white female outside on the sidewalk looking in and taking a photograph of the woman posing near the children? A flash bulb is reflected in an interior, background mirror. Another comment referenced the famous Holbein painting with a skull floating in the same foreground area that can be discerned if you were to tilt the painting at an angle; could this be a blond, women’s visage haunting this space?  These observations suggested a more complicated, multi-layered story being portrayed. The sense of the interior community versus the exterior voyeuristic gaze of the observer was a provocative place to end our discussion.

Additionally, here is an annotated resource for the painting that illuminates many aspects of the painting.

Our writing prompt today was “write about the art of finding beauty”. Participants began sharing their writing, which focused on such themes as living up to beauty standards and questioning who sets them. We discussed finding beauty in ourselves, finally feeling like we are “enough” after being our own worst critics. One participant noted that beauty is an “introspective assignment” and a task we must all undertake for ourselves. Another participant reflected on an experience of finding beauty in a Japanese garden, where the quiet, calming beauty of the space revealed itself “like a haiku poem”. Finally, another participant reminded us that, if we look for it, beauty can be found all around us — “I promise.”

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 Thursday June 10th at 6pm EDT, with more times listed on our Live Virtual Group Sessions page.



Live Virtual Group Session: 6pm EDT June 7th 2021

Thank you to everyone who joined for this session!

Our text for this session was an excerpt from Invisible Cities” by Italo Calvino, posted below.

Our prompt for this session was: “Write about a fascinating absence.”

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

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 June 9th at 12pm EDT, with more times listed on our Live Virtual Group Sessions page.


After a seven days’ march through woodland, the traveler directed toward Baucis cannot see the city and yet he has arrived. The slender stilts that rise from the ground at a great distance from one another and are lost above the clouds support the city. You climb them with ladders. On the ground the inhabitants rarely show themselves: having already everything they need up there, they prefer not to come down. Nothing of the city touches the earth except those long flamingo legs on which it rests and, when the days are sunny, a pierced, angular shadow that falls on the foliage.

         These are three hypotheses about the inhabitants of Baucis: that they hate the earth; that they respect the earth so much that they avoid all contact; that they love it as it was before they existed and with spyglasses and telescopes aimed downward they never tire of examining it, leaf by leaf, stone by stone, ant by ant, contemplating with fascination their own absence.

Cities and Eyes (Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities, pg. 77)


Encuentros virtuales en vivo: Sábado 5 de Junio, 13:00 EST (17:00 UTC)

Tuvimos una muy divertida sesión en español. Atendieron 9 participantes en total, representando a estados locales (incluyendo California y Nueva York y otros países (incluyendo Argentina, España, Chile, y Colombia).

Hicimos una lectura atenta del poema “Besos” de Gabriela Mistral. La complejidad del poema despertó múltiples lecturas en los participantes. Lo primero que notamos fue que el poema habla de dos tipos de besos—uno conceptual sin sujeto y el otro personal, indefinible. La dualidad de los dos besos. Mirando más a cerca al poema, una participante comentó que hay el beso bueno, el beso malo, el beso traicionero, el beso más complicado, el más turbulento, y el que no se debe de dar. En buscando el por qué del poema, alguien notó que la autora demuestra mucha agonía y despecho hacia otra persona. Al final parece como manipulación: “yo te enseñé a besar” y “sangre en mis labios”. Otra persona notó que hay mucho para analizar en el poema en tan corto tiempo. Y al final están las dos preguntas pidiéndole al otro si se recuerda. Un participante preguntó, ¿cuáles de estas experiencias he vivido yo?

La parte que causo la mayoría de conversación fue la séptima estrofa:

Judas besa a Jesús y deja impresa
en su rostro de Dios, la felonía,
mientras la Magdalena con sus besos
fortifica piadosa su agonía.

Las primeras estrofas tienen estructura parecida, pero se interrumpe cuando el poema menciona a Judas y Magdalena. A una participante le pareció esta comparación disonante. Otra persona notó que la que es piadosa es Magdalena; contraste de lo bueno y de lo malo. Aun otro participante mencionó que esta estrofa es fuera de tema, áspera. El elemento disonante del párrafo de Judas y Magdalena afectó y molestó a muchos participantes. Alguien notó que para ella era porque la traición de Jesus cuesta la vida, después lo que le pasa Judas, y la agonía de Magdalena. Aun otro participante mencionó que esta estrofa surge inesperadamente y hay que subjetivarlo. Otra persona dijo que en la opinión de ella, hay que objetivar la imagen de Jesus. Muchos estaban de acuerdo que esta estrofa marca el quiebre de la segunda parte del poema y esta fuera del tono emocional del poema. Todos estuvimos de acuerdo que la traición es la parte mas trágica que puede traer el beso.

La propuesta de escritura fue “Escribe sobre un beso”. Algunos participantes compartieron sus textos, muchos de los cuales estaban en la sombra del texto. Alguien le puso título a su escritura, “El Ultimo Beso” y hablaba del beso como, “instrumento de la muerte”. Otra persona escribió de “aquel beso [que] no valió la pena.” Uno sabe la intención de nuestro beso, pero no la intención de la otra persona. Otra participante escribió del lenguaje del amor sin palabras y de la incertidumbre del beso. Se escribió de todos los placeres y problemas que nos pueden traer los besos. Hubo además comentarios y observaciones muy detalladas que generaron un buen intercambio. ¡Sin duda, se hizo corto el tiempo!  

Se alienta a las/los participantes a compartir lo que escribieron a continuación (“Deja una respuesta”), para mantener la conversación aquí, teniendo en cuenta que el blog, por supuesto, es un espacio público donde no se garantiza la confidencialidad.

Por favor, únase a nosotros para nuestra próxima sesión en español: Sábado, 26 de junio a las 13:00 EST, con más veces listadas en inglés en nuestra página de sesiones grupales virtuales en vivo.

¡Esperamos verte pronto!


“Besos” por Gabriela Mistral 

Hay besos que pronuncian por sí solos
la sentencia de amor condenatoria,
hay besos que se dan con la mirada
hay besos que se dan con la memoria.

Hay besos silenciosos, besos nobles
hay besos enigmáticos, sinceros
hay besos que se dan sólo las almas
hay besos por prohibidos, verdaderos.

Hay besos que calcinan y que hieren,
hay besos que arrebatan los sentidos,
hay besos misteriosos que han dejado
mil sueños errantes y perdidos.

Hay besos problemáticos que encierran
una clave que nadie ha descifrado,
hay besos que engendran la tragedia
cuantas rosas en broche han deshojado.

Hay besos perfumados, besos tibios
que palpitan en íntimos anhelos,
hay besos que en los labios dejan huellas
como un campo de sol entre dos hielos.

Hay besos que parecen azucenas
por sublimes, ingenuos y por puros,
hay besos traicioneros y cobardes,
hay besos maldecidos y perjuros.


Judas besa a Jesús y deja impresa
en su rostro de Dios, la felonía,
mientras la Magdalena con sus besos
fortifica piadosa su agonía.

Desde entonces en los besos palpita
el amor, la traición y los dolores,
en las bodas humanas se parecen
a la brisa que juega con las flores.

Hay besos que producen desvaríos
de amorosa pasión ardiente y loca,
tú los conoces bien son besos míos
inventados por mí, para tu boca.

Besos de llama que en rastro impreso
llevan los surcos de un amor vedado,
besos de tempestad, salvajes besos
que solo nuestros labios han probado.

¿Te acuerdas del primero...? Indefinible;
cubrió tu faz de cárdenos sonrojos
y en los espasmos de emoción terrible,
llenáronse de lágrimas tus ojos.

¿Te acuerdas que una tarde en loco exceso
te vi celoso imaginando agravios,
te suspendí en mis brazos... vibró un beso,
y qué viste después...? Sangre en mis labios.

Yo te enseñé a besar: los besos fríos
son de impasible corazón de roca,
yo te enseñé a besar con besos míos
inventados por mí, para tu boca.


Live Virtual Group Session: 12pm EDT June 4th 2021

Thank you to everyone who joined for this session!

Our text for this session was the short film “The Gatherers” featuring violinist Kelly Hall-Tompkins and actor Daniel J. Watts, posted below.

Our prompt for this session was: “Write about sharing space.”

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

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 June 7th at 6pm EDT, with more times listed on our Live Virtual Group Sessions page.