As we gear up toward beginning our journey together, I wanted to share an event that happened last week. Last Monday I gave a talk to a group of retired women called the High Nooners, who meet twice a month on Salt Spring to share lunch, conversation, and to listen to guest speakers.

At the beginning of October, as I considered the ways I wanted to offer my work in the world, I decided that I would seek out some local opportunities for speaking and teaching as a way of diving in and seeing what came of it. This talk was the first one to arise. We chose the topic based on what the women were interested in. I was mostly excited and a tad nervous leading up to it. I knew I had a lot of experience as a facilitator, presenter and performer that I could rely on. However, I tend to plan profusely before a presentation then usually end up discarding my notes and just “winging” it. This makes for an exhilarating, if uncertain, experience. Fortunately I do have one piece of the plan that I stick with. I always begin with sharing one of my poems. Sometimes I don’t know which I will share until just before I “go on”. Such was the case with this presentation. On the drive to the restaurant where I would be having lunch with the women and then speaking, I realized that the poem Moonsnail was the one to share.

I found you there on the beach

beside the stairs where I was resting

I started with speaking it once, then offered some support for how to relate to it. I said, “Some people are more comfortable listening to poems and others not, so let yourself respond in your own way. Let the images wash over you, let the words speak to you through your memory or other images”.Then I recited the poem again. After that I invited them to respond with their impressions. Actually, after the second sharing, I let go. I gave them the floor and they lead the conversation.

My hands took to you like to another body

pale and luminous awake to echoes

Every now and then I returned to the images and phrases in the poem to either reiterate something that had been said or to point to a new idea. At one point I helped them “write” a poem together, each woman speaking aloud a new line spontaneously. It was in response to one woman saying she loved a certain line one of the other women had said. It was wonderful that they were open to playing with me.

All I want is what you have to give

spiral jetty moon milk blue aerola

I was both a speaker and a facilitator. I held the space for the conversation, and kept it opening in new directions while assuring that no one held the floor too long. It was beautiful and went on about 30-40 minutes. Then a woman asked me to end the talk by sharing the poem again.

How it came to be that you became my destiny

Remembering why I came here why I dream

After I was done they told me it was one of the best presentations they’ve ever had, and they invited me to come back to speak again. I don’t think they imagined they’d be talking or participating so much.

Bless the belly once full  now empty

it is beautiful to give birth to the sea

It’s fascinating. In this journey back to work, my otherwise incredibly supportive partner has been cautioning me not to emphasize the poetry when I talk about what I have to offer. His concern is that most people don’t care about poetry, nor do they don’t understand it. However, there it was, so central and vital and such a lovely way to enter into conversation.Poetry has been my way of engaging with audiences for over 15 years. I’ve used it to inspire students to think about their relationships with themselves and others, and to write about them in new and interesting ways. I’ve also shared my poems in all of the academic presentations I’ve given over the past 5 years. The poems are full of life, of wisdom, of metaphors and stories and images that invite others into a deeper conversation with themselves and each other, by bringing them into a present intimacy with their lives.

Poetry has also been my way of transforming my experience from the little girl who felt completely disconnected from herself and the natural world, to a woman who feels a sense of belonging, and a freedom to pursue her visions and her dreams for her life.Writing poems enabled me to reconnect with what it means to be alive, to be a woman, and to be a human being in a world of diverse beings of many species. Each time I recite my poems to myself or others, I am reminded of those connections, and I support others to recognize and remember them.

Are you curious about how to translate your creative passion into meaningful work and right livelihood?
Are you interested in learning more about your way of being, teaching, living in the world?

Join me on a journey called Finding Your Way to Work. We will begin together on November 7, 2010. Stay tuned for more details….