Live Virtual Group Session: 12PM EST January 21st 2022

Thank you to everyone who joined us for our this session!

For this session we close-read the poem January by Nancy Schoenberger, posted below.

The prompt for this session was: Write about what was or what will be.

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

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 24th at 6pm EST,  with more times listed on our Live Virtual Group Sessions page.


January by Nancy Schoenberger

Two-faced god, looking fore and aft:
Do you really belong to past 
glories, boredoms, indignities?
Impossible to look forward to one's own death
so dwell on complaints, pleasures, disappointments.
Small things really: the taste of an apple  
from an orchard abandoned
thirty years earlier, when there were apples, 
there were trees, the disheveled orchard thrumming with yellow jackets.
 
But the January snow
has piled up, and even now 
the boggy  cottonwoods 
litter the hardened yard 
with detritus,
or rich harvest,
depending on your point of view, 
or diet.

You weep, Janus! Or is that laughter,
 though you have no daughters
in this, this baleful start 
to a new beginning,
a new life? You seem to be guarding 
something, brothers. One at each door.     
Is it the little secret of the new year:
 
that everything waiting for us up ahead       
will be exactly as it was before?

Live Virtual Group Session: 5PM EST January 18th 2022

Thank you to everyone who joined us for our this session!

For this session we close-read the graphic medicine piece Solidarity by Luis Manriquez and Simon Gentry, excerpted from COVID Chronicles: A Comics Anthology edited by Kendra Boileau and Rich Johnson. Piece posted below.

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 January 21st at 12pm EST,  with more times listed on our Live Virtual Group Sessions page.


excerpted from COVID Chronicles: A Comics Anthology edited by Kendra Boileau and Rich Johnson
excerpted from COVID Chronicles: A Comics Anthology edited by Kendra Boileau and Rich Johnson

Encuentros virtuales en vivo: Sábado 15 de Enero, 13:00 EST (17:00 UTC)

El texto elegido fue Entre irse y quedarse de la poeta Octavio Paz.

La propuesta de escritura fue “Escribe sobre un tiempo de incertidumbre.” 

Aquí, ahora alentamos a los participantes que si así lo desean, compartan lo que escribieron a continuación. Deja tu respuesta aquí, si deseas continuar la conversación. Pero antes, les recomendamos tener en cuenta que el blog es un espacio público donde, por supuesto, no se garantiza la confidencialidad.

Por favor, únase a nosotros en nuestra próxima sesión en español: El sábado 5 de febrero a las 13 hrs. o a la 1 pm EST (hora de Nueva York). También, ofrecemos sesiones en inglés. Ve a  nuestra página de sesiones grupales virtuales en vivo.

¡Esperamos verte pronto!



Entre irse y quedarse por Octavio Paz


Entre irse y quedarse duda el día,
enamorado de su transparencia.

La tarde circular es ya bahía:
en su quieto vaivén se mece el mundo.

Todo es visible y todo es elusivo,
todo está cerca y todo es intocable.

Los papeles, el libro, el vaso, el lápiz
reposan a la sombra de sus nombres.

Latir del tiempo que en mi sien repite
la misma terca sílaba de sangre.

La luz hace del muro indiferente
un espectral teatro de reflejos.

En el centro de un ojo me descubro;
no me mira, me miro en su mirada.

Se disipa el instante. Sin moverme,
yo me quedo y me voy: soy una pausa.


Live Virtual Group Session: 12PM EST January 14th 2022

Happy Thank you to everyone who joined us for our this session!

For this session we close-read the poem Constantly Risking Absurdity (#15) by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, posted below.

Our prompt for this session was: Write about a highwire of your own making. 

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 Tuesday January 18th at 5pm EST,  with more times listed on our Live Virtual Group Sessions page.


Constantly Risking Absurdity (#15) by Lawrence Ferlinghetti


Constantly risking absurdity
                                             and death
            whenever he performs
                                        above the heads
                                                            of his audience
   the poet like an acrobat
                                 climbs on rime
                                          to a high wire of his own making
and balancing on eyebeams
                                     above a sea of faces
             paces his way
                               to the other side of day
    performing entrechats
                               and sleight-of-foot tricks
and other high theatrics
                               and all without mistaking
                     any thing
                               for what it may not be

       For he's the super realist
                                     who must perforce perceive
                   taut truth
                                 before the taking of each stance or step
in his supposed advance
                                  toward that still higher perch
where Beauty stands and waits
                                     with gravity
                                                to start her death-defying leap

      And he
             a little charleychaplin man
                                           who may or may not catch
               her fair eternal form
                                     spreadeagled in the empty air
                  of existence

Live Virtual Group Session: 6PM EST January 10th 2022

Happy New Year, and thank you to everyone who rejoined us for our first session of 2022!

For this session we close-read the poem New Day’s Lyric by Amanda Gorman, posted below.

Our prompt for this session was: Write about mending. 

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 January 14th at 12pm EST,  with more times listed on our Live Virtual Group Sessions page.

New Day's Lyric by Amanda Gorman

May this be the day
We come together.
Mourning, we come to mend,
Withered, we come to weather,
Torn, we come to tend,
Battered, we come to better.
Tethered by this year of yearning,
We are learning
That though we weren’t ready for this,
We have been readied by it.
We steadily vow that no matter
How we are weighed down,
We must always pave a way forward.

This hope is our door, our portal.
Even if we never get back to normal,
Someday we can venture beyond it,
To leave the known and take the first steps.
So let us not return to what was normal,
But reach toward what is next.

What was cursed, we will cure.
What was plagued, we will prove pure.
Where we tend to argue, we will try to agree,
Those fortunes we forswore, now the future we foresee,
Where we weren’t aware, we’re now awake;
Those moments we missed
Are now these moments we make,
The moments we meet,
And our hearts, once all together beaten,
Now all together beat.

Come, look up with kindness yet,
For even solace can be sourced from sorrow.
We remember, not just for the sake of yesterday,
But to take on tomorrow.

We heed this old spirit,
In a new day’s lyric,
In our hearts, we hear it:
For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne.
Be bold, sang Time this year,
Be bold, sang Time,
For when you honor yesterday,
Tomorrow ye will find.
Know what we’ve fought
Need not be forgot nor for none.
It defines us, binds us as one,
Come over, join this day just begun.
For wherever we come together,
We will forever overcome.

Live Virtual Group Session: 6PM EST December 20th 2021

Thank you to everyone who joined for this session!

For this session we close-read the poem Winter Solstice by Hilda Morley, posted below.

Our prompt for this session was: Write about something that crossed your path. 

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!

This will be our last virtual group session of 2021! We will be taking a holiday break to give our volunteer facilitators time off for celebration, rest and time with family. Please join us for our next session on January 10th, 2022 at 6pm EST, with more times to be listed on our Live Virtual Group Sessions page.


Winter Solstice by Hilda Morley

A cold night crosses
our path
                  The world appears
very large, very
round now       extending
far as the moon does
                                        It is from
the moon this cold travels
                                        It is
the light of the moon that causes
this night reflecting distance in its own
light so coldly
                                          (from one side of
the earth to the other)
                                        It is the length of this coldness
It is the long distance
between two points which are
not in a line        now
                                       not a
straightness       (however
straight) but a curve only,
silver that is a rock reflecting
                                                      not metal
but a rock accepting
distance
                     (a scream in silence
where between the two
points what touches
is a curve around the world
                                                      (the dance unmoving).

Encuentros virtuales en vivo: Sábado 18 de Deciembre, 13:00 EST (18:00 UTC)

Nos acompañaran ocho participantes desde Nueva York, España, Argentina, California, y Italia.

El texto elegido fue Gracias a la Vida de la poeta Chilena Violeta Parra. El poema/canción se leyó dos veces y después vimos el video de Violeta Parra cantando la canción.

Una participante notó que el poema es un poema existencial y amoroso, las estrofas se refieren, “al hombre que amo”. Todas las estrofas terminan con lo que la poeta hace para estar más cercana de su amado—la ayudan a ver, escuchar, sentir etc. a su amado. Aún al final del poema está ese otro. Se notó que la última estrofa es más universal, no singulariza al amado.

Otra persona mencionó que este poema es apropiado en este tiempo de la pandemia. El amado puede ser un familiar o una amistad, y cuando por fin pudimos salir de nuestras casas, apreciamos las cosas pequeñas como grillos, pájaros, etc. Y las dos últimas líneas son muy bonitas y ciertas, la relación entre autor y lector. Aun otra participante notó que la vida nos ha dado a todos.

Un participante mencionó que esta canción nos impacta tanto porque todos somos humanos. Otra persona refirió que, en el periodo de COVID, es un poema de agradecimiento; es tan importante ahora porque hay que ser consciente del prójimo. Alguien más dijo que cuando uno está enfermo, se le quita “la anestesia” de la vida y uno se recuerda lo que más le importa—la familia, las amistades, la naturaleza.

Otra persona le impactó el video de Violeta cantando la canción. ¿Cuál va a ser el video de nuestra vida? ¿Cuáles son las fotos que van a encajar nuestra vida? Esto le recordó a otra persona que Violeta se quitó su propia vida pronto después de escribir esta canción.

La propuesta de escritura fue “Gracias a vida…” Un participante escribió sobre todo lo que no tiene (enfermedad, hambre, etc.) y compartió un cuento sobre dándole gracias a Dios en vez de pedirle a Dios. Otra escribió un poema como defensa a la vida, como una afirmación. Otro escribió sobre sus recuerdos. Y otra escribió sobre la enfermedad que le ha visitado, de la aceptación y el impacto de este texto. Disfrutamos muchísimo al escuchar lo que habían escrito los participantes. Se pasó el tiempo demasiado de ligero.

Aquí, ahora alentamos a los participantes que si así lo desean, compartan lo que escribieron a continuación. Deja tu respuesta aquí, si deseas continuar la conversación sobre el poema de Claribel Alegría. Pero antes, les recomendamos tener en cuenta que el blog es un espacio público donde, por supuesto, no se garantiza la confidencialidad.

Por favor, únase a nosotros en nuestra próxima sesión en español: El sábado 15 de enero a las 13 hrs. o a la 1 pm EST (hora de Nueva York). También, ofrecemos sesiones en inglés. Ve a  nuestra página de sesiones grupales virtuales en vivo.

¡Esperamos verte pronto!


Gracias a La Vida por Violeta Parra

Gracias a la vida, que me ha dado tanto.
Me dió dos luceros que, cuando los abro,
perfecto distingo lo negro del blanco,
y en el alto cielo su fondo estrellado,
y en las multitudes el hombre que yo amo.

Gracias a la vida, que me ha dado tanto.
Me ha dado el oído, que en todo su ancho
graba noche y día; grillos y canarios.
martillos, turbinas, chubascos
y la voz tan tierna de mi enamorado.

Gracias a la vida, que me ha dado tanto.
Me ha dado el sonido y el abecedario,
con él las palabras que pienso y declaro:
madre, amigo, hermano y luz, alumbrando
la ruta del alma del que estoy amando.

Gracias a la vida, que me ha dado tanto.
Me ha dado la marcha de mis pies cansados;
con ellos anduve ciudades y charcos,
playas y desiertos, montañas y llanos,
y la casa tuya, tu calle y tu patio.

Gracias a la vida, que me ha dado tanto.
Me dió el corazón, que agita su marco
cuando miro el fruto del cerebro humano,
cuando miro el bueno tan lejos del malo,
cuando miro el fondo de tus ojos claros.

Gracias a la vida, que me ha dado tanto.
Me ha dado la risa y me ha dado el llanto;
así yo distingo dicha de quebranto,
los dos materiales que forman mi canto
y el canto de ustedes, que es el mismo canto,
y el canto de todos, que es mi propio canto.


Live Virtual Group Session: 12PM EST December 17th 2021

Thank you to everyone who joined for this session!

For this session we close-read the poem Someone Is Studying Einstein’s Brain by Miles Solstice, posted below.

Our prompt for this session was: Write about studying someone. 

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 December 20th at 6pm EST. This will be our last virtual group session of 2021! We will be taking a holiday break to give our volunteer facilitators time off for celebration, rest and time with family. We will be resuming virtual group sessions on January 10th, 2022 at 6pm EST, with more times to be listed on our Live Virtual Group Sessions page.


Someone Is Studying Einstein’s Brain by Miles Solstice

When the next great
                                        dies
will their emails
be packaged
                        and published
revealing
                        their motivation
                                                        for everything
they ever wrote
enlightening researchers
satisfying curious readers?

There’s more written down
now
        than ever
                        and none of it
is written down.
                             Ten
                                  thousand
elephants
               sway
                            in the breeze.
Blades
            of grass
                               conspire
against
            a dandelion.

An albatross flies five
hundred miles
                              without flapping
migrates
                  pole to pole.
The price
                      of a one hundred
trillion dollar bill.

                                Have you ever
sat next to a
                          campfire
                                                until your shoes
began to melt?
                                And what
of the toes
                                in that case?

Live Virtual Group Session: 12PM EST December 15th 2021

Thank you to everyone who joined for this session!

For this session we close-read the poem Entangle by Tony Hoagland, posted below.

Our prompt for this session was: What is better left entangled? 

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 December 17th at 12pm EST,  with more times listed on our Live Virtual Group Sessions page.


Entangle by Tony Hoagland


Sometimes I prefer not to untangle it.
I prefer it to remain disorganized,

because it is richer that way
like a certain shrubbery I pass each day on Reba Street

in an unimpressive yard, in front of a house that seems unoccupied:
a chest-high, spreading shrub with large white waxy blossoms—

whose stalks are climbed and woven through simultaneously
by a different kind of vine with small magenta flowers

that appear and disappear inside the maze of leaves
like tiny purple stitches.

The white and purple combination of these species,
one seeming to possibly strangle the other,

one possibly lifting the other up — it would take both
a botanist and a psychologist to figure it all out,

—but I prefer not to disentangle it,
because it is more accurate.

My ferocious love, and how it repeatedly is trapped
inside my fear of being sentimental;

my need to control even the kindness of the world,
rejecting gifts for which I am not prepared;

my apparently inextinguishable notion
that I am moving toward a destination

—I could probably untangle it
yet I prefer to walk down Reba Street instead

in the sunlight and the wind, with no mastery
of my feelings or my thoughts,

purple and ivory and green, not understanding what I am
and yet in certain moments remembering, and bursting into tears,

somewhat confused as the vines run through me
and flower unexpectedly.

Live Virtual Group Session: 6PM EST December 13th 2021

Thank you to everyone who joined for this session!

For this session we listened to the song Dickens’ Dublin (The Palace) by Loreena McKennitt, posted below with lyrics.

Our prompt for this session was: Write about a place called home. 

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 December 15th at 12pm EST,  with more times listed on our Live Virtual Group Sessions page.


Joyful mystery, the birth of our Lord...
This night our Lady and St. Joseph was going up to get registered and, um,
They were going down the road and they met this man and he said,
"Have you any room?" and he said, "No, but there's an old stable over there that I owned, if yous want to go into it."
And they went over and the Lord came down from the heaven at twelve o'clock and loads of beautiful angels was with them, and when they were walkin'...

I walk the streets of Dublin town, it's eighteen forty-two
It's snowing on this Christmas Eve, think I'll beg another bob or two
I'll huddle in this doorway here
'Til someone comes along
If the lamp lighter comes real soon
Maybe I'll go home with him
Maybe I can find a place I can call my home
Maybe I can find a home I can call my own

These three wise kings, um, they were all from different countries.
And they always used to look up at the sky and they looked up this night and saw this beautiful star up in the sky.
And when they were going they all meeted together and they had to pass King Herod's, not that we much care for him.
And they went in and he said, "Where ye goin' with yer best stitches on ye?"

The horses on the cobbled stones go by, think I'll get one, one fine day
And ride into the countryside and very far away
But now as the daylight disappears
I best find a place to sleep
Think I'll slip into the bell tower
In the church just down the street
Maybe I can find a place I can call my home
Maybe I can find a home I can call my own

And they said, "Did you not hear the news?" and say he says, "What news?" He says, "This day the Savior is born."
And he says to them, "When you find him come back and tell me 'cause I want to go and adore him too."
And he was only coddin' them. He wanted to kill him and when they were going, they stopped and they said,
"Surely not this old stable that our King is born in. We were expecting a palace."

Maybe on the way I'll find the dog I saw the other night
And tuck him underneath my jacket
So we'll stay warm through the night
And as we lie in the bell tower high
And dream of days to come
The bells o'er head will call the hours
The day we will find a home
Maybe I can find a place I can call my home
Maybe I can find a home I can call my own
Maybe I can find a place I can call my home
Maybe I can find a home I can call my own

There was these shepherds and shepherds are fellas that mind
The foals and cows and sheeps and little lambs and all and, um,
They hears this beautiful music up in the sky and they were wondering what was so fun.
An angel disappated them and he said, "I was wonderin' what was so fun"
And he said ye, and he said, "The savior is born. If yous want to go see him, follow that star up in the sky, " and it was a beautiful star.