Live Virtual Group Session: 6pm EDT October 26th 2020

Thank you to everyone who joined us for this session!

Our text for this session was the poem “Answers” by Mark Strand, posted below.

Our prompt was: “Write about a time you had two answers to the same question.

More details about this session will be posted soon, 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, October 28th at 12pm EDT, with more times listed on our Live Virtual Group Sessions page.

 Answers by Mark Strand
 
 Why did you travel?
 Because the house was cold.
 Why did you travel?
 Because it is what I have always done between sunset and sunrise.
 What did you wear?
 I wore a blue suit, a white shirt, yellow tie, and yellow socks.
 What did you wear?
 I wore nothing. A scarf of pain kept me warm.
 Who did you sleep with?
 I slept with a different woman each night.
 Who did you sleep with?
 I slept alone. I have always slept alone.
 Why did you lie to me?
 I always thought I told the truth.
 Why did you lie to me?
 Because the truth lies like nothing else and I love the truth.
 Why are you going?
 Because nothing means much to me anymore.
 Why are you going?
 I don't know. I have never known.
 How long shall I wait for you?
 Do not wait for me. I am tired and I want to lie down.
 Are you tired and do you want to lie down?
 Yes, I am tired and I want to lie down. 

Live Virtual Group Session: 12pm EDT October 21st 2020

Thank you to everyone who joined us for this session!

Our text for this session was the poem “Enough” by Suzanne Buffam, posted below.

Our prompt was: “Write about something passed down through your family.

More details about this session will be posted soon, 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, October 26th at 6pm EDT, with more times listed on our Live Virtual Group Sessions page.


Enough By Suzanne Buffam
 
I am wearing dark glasses inside the house
To match my dark mood.
 
I have left all the sugar out of the pie.
My rage is a kind of domestic rage.
 
I learned it from my mother
Who learned it from her mother before her
 
And so on.
Surely the Greeks had a word for this.
 
Now surely the Germans do.
The more words a person knows
 
To describe her private sufferings
The more distantly she can perceive them.
 
I repeat the names of all the cities I’ve known
And watch an ant drag its crooked shadow home.
 
What does it mean to love the life we’ve been given?
To act well the part that’s been cast for us?
 
Wind. Light. Fire. Time.  
A train whistles through the far hills.
 
One day I plan to be riding it.


Source: The Irrationalist (Canarium Books, 2010)

Live Virtual Group Session: 6pm EDT October 19th 2020

Thank you to everyone who joined us for this session!

Our text for this session was the poem “The Artist” by William Carlos Williams, posted below.

Our prompt was to choose between: “Write about a moment of unexpected beauty” or “Write about a missed performance.”

More details about this session will be posted soon, 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, October 21st at 12pm EDT, with more times listed on our Live Virtual Group Sessions page.


The Artist by William Carlos Williams

Mr. T.
          bareheaded
                    in a soiled undershirt
his hair standing out
          on all sides
                    stood on his toes
heels together
           arms gracefully
                    for the moment
curled above his head.
            Then he whirled about
                     bounded
into the air
             and with an entrechat
                     perfectly achieved
completed the figure.
             My mother
                     taken by surprise
where she sat
             in her invalid’s chair
                      was left speechless.
Bravo! she cried at last
             and clapped her hands.
                       The man’s wife
came from the kitchen:
            What goes on here? she said.
                        But the show was over.

Live Virtual Group Session: 12pm EDT October 14th 2020

Thank you to everyone who joined us for this session!

Together we looked at the visual art “Television Snow” by R. Michael Wommack, posted below.

More details about this session will be posted soon, 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, October 19th at 6pm EDT, with more times listed on our Live Virtual Group Sessions page.


Television Snow by R. Michael Wommack


Encuentros virtuales en vivo: Martes 13 de octubre, 16:30 EST

Tuvimos la primera sesión en español de Octubre y fue una muy bonita experiencia! Fuimos 13 participantes en total representando a Chile, Estados Unidos (NY y NJ), España, México y Argentina. Para algunos de los participantes era la primera vez en estas sesiones!

El texto que elegimos para esta sesión fue un poema de Mario Benedetti, llamado “No te rindas,” publicado a continuación. Dos voluntarias leyeron el texto en voz alta. En esta oportunidad, la conversación giró en torno a varios aspectos, no se centró en uno solo. Por un lado, una participante notó un “tono” propio de una canción, con una estructura que simulaba incluso un estribillo pegadizo. Por otro lado, varios participantes se fijaban y notaban un tono de esperanza, de luz en el poema que incluso lo hacía de sus favoritos. Ideas como que siempre hay una salida, que se puede lograr lo que uno quiere, fueron nombradas más de una vez. Varios sentían que entrega apoyo e invita a continuar en tiempos difíciles. Para otros, el poema tenía su fuerza en la frase “no te rindas porque yo te quiero”, en el sentido de que interpelaba al lector, lo rescata y da fuerza, da sentido a la vida. Sin embargo, aunque fueran todo visiones positivas, todos evitaban hablar de un poema demasiado “positivista”, dado que por un lado el “yo te quiero” interpela al lector, obliga al lector, “a ese Otro”. Por otro lado, para varios fue interesante subrayar que el “yo te quiero” hace vulnerable al autor, que se hace dependiente del lector, generándose una relación de interdependencia entre ambos digna de ser reflexionada, dado que bajo este prisma, el poema se hace más humano que nunca. Qué le pasa a uno si el otro se rinde? Se debilita la relación, se debilita la persona? Otros participantes veían el poema como una arenga a comenzar y recomenzar (así es la vida, sostienen).

La invitación a escribir fue bajo el título “escribe acerca de un momento en que no te rendiste”. Aunque no hubo tiempo para muchas intervenciones, dado lo extenso de la discusión y lectura detallada (close reading) del poema, los participantes que compartieron su texto mostraron, una vez más, un nivel excelso. Por un lado, una participante ahondó más, a la sombra del texto, en la relación de interdependencia entre autor y lector. Otro participante subrayó en su texto que nos necesitamos todo el tiempo, que necesitamos al Otro para no rendirnos… lo que somos, en suma, es porque hay un Otro.

Se alienta a 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, 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!


No Te Rindas | Mario Benedetti

No te rindas, aún estás a tiempo
de alcanzar y comenzar de nuevo,
aceptar tus sombras, enterrar tus miedos,
liberar el lastre, retomar el vuelo.

No te rindas que la vida es eso,
continuar el viaje,
perseguir tus sueños,
destrabar el tiempo,
correr los escombros y destapar el cielo.

No te rindas, por favor no cedas,
aunque el frío queme,
aunque el miedo muerda,
aunque el sol se esconda y se calle el viento,
aún hay fuego en tu alma,
aún hay vida en tus sueños,
porque la vida es tuya y tuyo también el deseo,
porque lo has querido y porque te quiero.

Porque existe el vino y el amor, es cierto,
porque no hay heridas que no cure el tiempo,
abrir las puertas quitar los cerrojos,
abandonar las murallas que te protegieron.

Vivir la vida y aceptar el reto,
recuperar la risa, ensayar un canto,
bajar la guardia y extender las manos,
desplegar las alas e intentar de nuevo,
celebrar la vida y retomar los cielos.

No te rindas, por favor no cedas,
aunque el frío queme,
aunque el miedo muerda,
aunque el sol se ponga y se calle el viento,
aún hay fuego en tu alma,
aún hay vida en tus sueños,
porque cada día es un comienzo,
porque esta es la hora y el mejor momento,
porque no estás sola,
porque yo te quiero.

Live Virtual Group Session: 6pm EDT October 12th 2020

Thank you to everyone who joined us for this session!

Our text was the poem “The Snow Mare” by N. Scott Momaday, posted below.

Our prompt was: “Write about bursts of soft commotion.

More details about this session will be posted soon, 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, October 14th at 12pm EDT, with more times listed on our Live Virtual Group Sessions page.


The Snow Mare by N. Scott Momaday

In my dream, a blue mare loping,
Pewter on a porcelain field, away.
There are bursts of soft commotion
Where her hooves drive in the drifts,
And as dusk ebbs on the plane of night,
She shears the web of winter,
And on the far, blind side
She is no more. I behold nothing,
Wherein the mare dissolves in memory,
Beyond the burden Of being.

Live Virtual Group Session: 12pm EDT October 7th 2020

Thank you to everyone who joined us for this session!

Our text was the poem “The Death of Marilyn Monroe” by Sharon Olds, posted below.

Our prompt was: “Write about a time you stood in a doorway.”

More details about this session will be posted soon, 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, October 12th at 6pm EDT, with more times listed on our Live Virtual Group Sessions page.


The Death of Marilyn Monroe  by Sharon Olds

The ambulance men touched her cold
body, lifted it, cold as iron,
onto the stretcher, tried to close the
mouth, closed the eyes, tied the
arms to the sides, moved a caught
strand of hair, as if it mattered,
saw the shape of her breasts, flattened by
gravity, under the sheet,
carried her, as if it were she,
down the steps.

These men were never the same. They went out
afterwards, as they always did,
for a drink or two, but they could not meet
each other’s eyes.

                             Their lives took
a turn--one had nightmares, strange
pains, impotence, depression. One did not
like his work, his wife looked
different, his kids. Even death
seemed different to him–a place where she
would be waiting,

and one found himself standing at night
in the doorway to a room of sleep, listening to a
woman breathing, just an ordinary
woman
breathing.



"Death of Marilyn Monroe," by Sharon Olds 
from The Dead and the Living (Alfred A. Knopf).

Live Virtual Group Session: 6pm EDT October 5th 2020

Thank you to everyone who joined us for this session!

Our text was the poem “Ode to a Pair of Scissors” by Pablo Neruda, posted below.

Our prompt was: “Write an ode to something common.”

More details about this session will be posted soon, 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, October 7th at 12pm EDT, with more times listed on our Live Virtual Group Sessions page.


"Ode to a Pair of Scissors" by Pablo Neruda

Prodigious scissors
(looking like birds, or fish),
you are as polished as a knight’s
shining armor.
 
Two long and treacherous
knives
crossed and bound together
for all time,
two
tiny rivers
joined:
thus was born a creature for cutting,
a fish that swims among billowing linens,
a bird that flies
through
barbershops.
 
Scissors
that smell of
my seamstress
aunt’s
hands
when their vacant
metal eye
spied on
our
cramped childhood,
tattling
to the neighbors
about our thefts of plums and kisses.
There,
in the house,
nestled in their corner,
the scissors crossed
our lives,
and oh so
many lengths of
fabric
that they cut and kept on cutting:
for newlyweds and the dead,
for newborns and hospital wards.
They cut
and kept on cutting,
also the peasant’s
hair
as tough
as a plant that clings to rock,
and flags
soon
stained and scorched
by blood and flame,
and vine
stalks in winter,
and the cord
of
voices
on the telephone.
 
A long-lost pair of scissors
cut your mother’s
thread
from your navel
and handed you for all time
your separate existence.
Another pair, not necessarily
somber,
will one day cut
the suit you wear to your grave.
 
Scissors
have gone
everywhere,
they’ve explored
the world
snipping off pieces of
happiness
and sadness
indifferently.
Everything has been material
for scissors to shape:
the tailor’s
giant
scissors,
as lovely as schooners,
and very small ones
for trimming nails
in the shape
of the waning moon,
and the surgeon’s
slender
submarine scissors
that cut the complications
and the knot that should not have grown inside you. 
 
Now, I’ll cut this ode short
with the scissors
of good sense,
so that it won’t be too long or too short,
so that it
will
fit in your pocket
smoothed and folded
like
a pair
of scissors.
 
                                                                       
Pablo Neruda
Ode to Common Things 
New York: Bullfinch Press: 1994
Translator Ken Krabbenhoft

Laboratori Di Medicina Narrativa: sabato 3 ottobre dalle 16 alle 17.30

Siamo stati molto lieti di avervi avuti con noi!

Abbiamo letto insieme estratti da Questa libertà di Pierluigi Cappello, che trovate alla fine. 

Poi, abbiamo scritto ispirati dallo stimolo: “Descrivi la muraglia che ti accompagna”.

Al più presto, condivideremo un breve riassunto della sessione. Vi invitiamo a visitare di nuovo questa pagina nei prossimi giorni.

Se avete partecipato al laboratorio, potete condividere i vostri scritti alla fine della pagina (“Leave a Reply”). Attraverso questo forum speriamo di creare uno spazio per continuare la nostra conversazione!

Stiamo raccogliendo impressioni e breve feedback sui nostri laboratori di medicina narrativa su Zoom!

Questo breve questionario (anonimo, e aperto a chiunque abbia frequentato almeno un laboratorio) è molto importante per noi, e ci permetterà di elaborare sul valore dei nostri laboratori e sul ruolo dello spazio per riflettere e metabolizzare il momento presente. Vi preghiamo quindi di condividere le nostre riflessioni con noi! 


(Pierluigi Cappello, Questa libertà, 2013)

Si era affacciato il sole dopo che durante la mattinata era piovuto, ora tutto accecava nel riflesso della luce sulle cose ancora bagnate. Tra un lembo di nuvola e l’altro si apriva un azzurro che pareva appena battuto dal conio della creazione. In basso c’era una strada con un paio di utilitarie parcheggiate all’ombra di un muro che si levava altissimo, superava il mio sguardo. In cima graffiavano l’aria, con i loro segni neri, dei ferri ritorti in mezzo ai quali, battuti dal sole, dei cocci di bottiglia brillavano come diamanti nell’azzurro immacolato di quel pezzo di cielo.

Sentire con triste meraviglia / come tutta la vita e il suo travaglio / in questo seguitare una muraglia / che ha in cima cocci aguzzi di bottiglia. I quattro versi non uscirono zampillanti, lucidi e di un colpo solo, così come li riporto adesso sulla pagina: affiorarono un poco per volta. Dalla nebbia, come il profilo di un’isola misteriosa.  Solo l’ultimo risalì la memoria tutto intero, il resto si agganciò a parole forti come “meraviglia”, “travaglio”, “seguitare”, finché la catena di suoni si ricompose, proveniente da chissà quale pomeriggio trascorso in sala studio quando ero in collegio.

Così il muro, che seppi poi cingere un magazzino dei Monopoli di Stato, fece irruzione nella poesia di Montale, dando concretezza a quei versi che, a loro volta, ne illuminavano la superficie bruta in cemento armato, i ferri dentro la pancia del cielo, i cocci di bottiglia battuti dalla luce. E l’impressione che quelle parole fossero state scritte proprio per me, rompendo la solitudine di quel preciso momento in cui venni tentato dall’appoggiare la fronte sul vetro, diventò il sangue e l’ossigeno che attraversavano la mia carne, lasciandomi l’idea che, in qualche caso, il dolore può essere compreso. Che il dolore può essere portato dentro intatto e inoffensivo, come un proiettile che si è fermato accanto al cuore e che nessun chirurgo è stato capace di estrarre. Tutto qui, se hai la fortuna che le parole ti vengano incontro e che, nella comprensione, sciolgano il nodo del male in una forma di desolata serenità che ti accompagna per il resto della vita. (…)

Da quel giorno la muraglia venne con me fino al momento delle dimissioni, mi seguì mentre andavo in palestra, dove l’obiettivo non era più di limare di un decimo di secondo il mio tempo sui cento metri, ma fare male le cose che prima facevo con naturalezza: stava accanto a me quando andavo al bar dell’ospedale; era lì nel momento in cui i miei genitori capirono che non ci sarebbero stati né stampelle né bastoni a sorreggermi. Mi accompagnò ogni giorno di quei giorni e di quei mesi, la muraglia, mettendomi dentro la consapevolezza che ognuno di noi porta in sé un limite che è anche una soglia. Delle colonne d’Ercole che rappresentano l’invito a essere superate.

Sono entrato in pronto soccorso la sera del dieci settembre 1983. Sono uscito dall’istituto di riabilitazione nella mattinata del sedici marzo del 1985. Sono date che si possono scrivere anche così: 10/09/1983 – 16/03/1985, con il trattino in mezzo. E benché inizio e fine abbiano importanza, è quel trattino teso fra loro come una fune che riempie di senso l’una e l’altra e, illuminando, avvicina le due sponde. Come un funambolo, quella fune mi sono impegnato a percorrerla tutta, cercando di rimanere in equilibrio tra soprassalti e incertezze e, soprattutto, evitando di farmi sbilanciare dalla paura di un baratro spalancato sotto i miei piedi. (…) Dentro quel trattino fra due date posso metterci poche certezze. (…) Ma ciò che è rimasto in piedi e che ha rappresentato la linea continua tra la vita di prima e la vita di dopo, è stata la letteratura. Anzi, la passione si è liberata dal peso delle regole del branco. Ridotta a una vita clandestina durante gli anni di collegio e di studio, ora bruciava più che mai. Mostrava i segni del suo divampare nell’affollato strepito di libri e riviste che ormai ingombrava per intero il lungo davanzale della finestra e della mia parte di armadietto. Non mi accontentavo più di utilizzare i libri come un mezzo di trasporto per andare via lontano, ora volevo catturarne e trattenerne la polpa via (…)

Il sedici marzo del 1985 avevo paura. Custodito dal ventre tiepido dell’ospedale, avrei voluto rimanere lì, nella mia camera, a fare il monaco amanuense. Mi sarei accontentato di poco, qualche libro, qualche quaderno, una biro. Sarei stato un prigioniero intorpidito e felice. Mentre aspettavo mio padre, guardai il lungo davanzale vuoto, il letto ancora sfatto che era stato la mia isola di Circe. Le sue pieghe, nascondendomelo, mi avevano nascosto al mondo. All’arrivo di mio padre ero sul punto di piangere. (…)

Quando Cortez sbarcò sulle coste del Messico, fece bruciare le navi. Con quel gesto intendeva spingere dentro la polpa di un mondo sconosciuto il coraggio dei suoi archibugieri. Innervato dalla disperazione, quel coraggio sarebbe diventato ferocia e quella ferocia avrebbe abbattuto un impero. Nel momento in cui mio padre prese la borsa da viaggio, io, senza la ferocia di Cortez, con una spinta decisa alla carrozzina, lasciai bruciare le mie caravelle alle spalle. Davanti la porta automatica si spalancò su un continente ignoto.


Live Virtual Group Session: 12pm EDT September 30th 2020

Our workshop today included 18 participants from across the U.S. as well as
Angola, Athens, Bahrain, and Canada. The group engaged in a silent, slow looking at
the painting Profile/Part I, The Twenties: Pittsburgh Memories, Mill Hand’s Lunch
Bucket, 1978 by Romare Bearden.
They then typed into the chat what they saw
immediately and upon closer study. Responses spanned form, function, and a range of
feelings. We noted human figures, open doors, a stove, big hands, multiple frames,
photographs and images, texture, scraps, a window, a ceiling, smoke, and pollution.
Deeper discussion explored what the layered collage’s elements represent — what
meaning could we make? Participants contrasted the flatness of the visual texture
(“water stains or wallpaper?”) with its movement (“almost chaotic”) with a blend of light,
shadow, hands (offering help, or reaching for help?), exploitation of labor, violence,
unspoken truths, family lineage, and a sense of shared experiences. One participant
recognized how multiple margins create a sense of self-referentiality – the process of
creating something despite the pieces refusing to cohere into a narrative. We were left
wondering: are estrangement and fragmentation connected, leading to alienation?

Our writing prompt, “Tell the story of a moment in scraps and remnants” inspired six
readers to share what they wrote in four minutes. The diverse responses included a list
of items that formed a collage, a palimpsest (a manuscript or piece of writing material on
which the original writing has been effaced to make room for later writing but of which
traces remain), and a car trip through Detroit (“Everywhere I lived or worked is
gone”…”Not ruins, something ruined”). Another writer picked up on the painting’s
intergenerational theme by recognizing a grandmother of 14 and describing a history
through war and across generations. The reading of the piece itself was noted as
sounding staccato, which added to the impact of listening. Imagery in other writings
brought to mind people, places and texture (“His hand, his garden, his flannel shirt”) as
well as purpose (a teacher surrounded by books, bricks, and students with a Pink Floyd
mindset “We don’t need no education.”) Our final writer-reader wrote about picking up
the pieces of memory – life’s moments floating away like a kaleidoscope flipping.

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, October 5th at 6pm EDT, with more times listed on our Live Virtual Group Sessions page.



Romare Bearden

 (American, 1911–1988)
Mill hand’s lunch bucket (Pittsburgh memories)
 , 1978–1978
Collage and Watercolor
34.9 x 46 cm. (13.7 x 18.1 in.)