“As a poet, I’ve always hated the fact that poetry often intimidates people. Many people I know feel that poetry is a test they can only pass if they are smart enough or sensitive enough, and most fear they will fail. Many refuse the test altogether—never read poetry—for fear of failure. Somehow something has gone wrong with poetry in our culture. We have lost touch of its value and purpose, and in doing so, we have lost contact with essential aspects of our own emotional and spiritual lives.”
—Gregory Orr, from Poetry as Survival (The University of Georgia Press, 2002)
Want to lead poetry circles yourself?
Never doubt that you can know the thrill and satisfaction of bringing great souls and great poems together in a safe, healing, searching and enlivening circle of trust. Join Kim for a half- or full-day workshop to explore becoming a facilitator of poetry circles for your community. See the suggested outline below of what a workshop to train facilitators would entail.
WordSPA’s two-fold mission is:
1) To bring poetry to groups who want to explore poems as a spiritual catalyst.
2) To teach facilitators how to lead spiritual poetry groups that are open to seekers and believers, or are specially adapted to a specific ministry including healthcare, church ministry, hospice, support for persons with addictions, the marginalized and others who embrace the power of poetry to transform.
What does a Facilitator Workshop entail?
- Getting the word out
- Choosing a meeting space
- Creating comfort in the room set up
- Handling any misgivings—yours and theirs!
- Finding good poems
- Arranging poems around a compelling theme
- Creating an easy, attractive participant’s handout
Getting the circle started
- Facilitating brief introductions
- Clarifying “What’s a Poetry Circle?”
- Getting past “But I don’t know anything about poetry!”
- Opening into sacred space with humor and mindfulness
- Reading the poems aloud
- Using the 3 part mindfulness practice of silence, special phrases and sharing
- Keeping it safe with healthy boundaries, no fixing or cross talk, and freedom to speak or pass
- Group reading together a last poem that “wraps up”
- My insight for the day
- A prayer that fits the theme
Beyond the basics (for experienced facilitators)
• Setting the tone with music
• Showing video of poets reading their own poems–Youtube is your ally
• Offering visual meditations with beautiful photography, on a poem you’ve chosen
• Creating variety for established circles
Additional tips for facilitators
- Setting up poetry source files
- Finding online resources that help you—websites, Pinterest, Facebook
- Handling the costs—space rental, refreshments, copying costs, your time
- It’s not an academic endeavor, it’s a spiritual wake up call!
Gratefulness.org is an excellent resource for facilitators, and WordSPA loves this quote from the Gratefulness website: “By cutting to the truth of our experience, poetry shakes us and awakens us. Through it we open our eyes to what Robert Frost called “the pleasure of taking pains.” And what is gratitude besides this playful engagement with life as it unfolds in all its challenges and delights?