Poetry Club July 2020

Who would have guessed that our lives would be stuck in this holding pattern? I think back to our last “in person” meeting, and how we planned to go to Berkeley on the train for a field trip to the walk of poetry. I have to maintain my hope that it will happen one day. So, July brought another meeting via ZOOM, for which I am grateful at least we can continue our exploration of poets and poetry.

June brought a sad event for me: I received news that Dr. Michael Elliott, mentor, teacher and friend, has passed away. I owe just about all my therapy skills to him (yes, I did go to graduate school as well, but actually practicing was a whole different ball game). In 2019 Michael published a book of poetry, poems about the entire therapeutic process, from client to therapist, outcomes, confusion and more. I decided to read several of his poems to honor him. His book is “Waterfalls of Therapy“.

Kathy read two poems by Mary Oliver, both about dogs. “Percy One” and “Benjamin, Who Came From Who Knows Where,” with a profound ending that led us to believe this wasn’t just about the dog. We love poems about dogs!

Susan shared “Summons” by Robert Francis, a wonderful poem that led to discussion of the mystery of waking in the night, as well as how this feels when young versus a bit older. She also shared “Consolation” by Wislawa Szymborska. This is a wonderful poem with a new perspective on Darwin. We discussed how what you do in your professional life might impact what you seek out during your down time. I loved the part of the poem that described Darwin as never reading anything that ended unhappily, and I could just see a pile of discarded books, flung across the room when they took a negative turn.

Barbara read “French Chocolates” by Ellen Bass, a Santa Cruz poet. We had a long discussion about platitudes and how difficult it can be to say the right thing in moments of grief. Bass had no such difficulty, the poem clearly states what should and shouldn’t be said, with the preference for chocolates over all else.

Tece shared some Billy Collins, have discovered him on Instagram giving a talk about poetry. “Joy” is wonderfully written, more proof of Collin’s subtle genius when it comes to visualization, contrasts and more.

Cindy explored the previously introduced Poetry Therapist concept with a bit of a lesson on Nostalgia versus Reminiscence. “Texas Prison Town” by Dick Allen was a long poem, which traveled with the characters around Texas, in diners, bouncing from memory to memory, with these transitions the proof of how things would never be exactly the same again.