Tag Archives: empathy

awoke my pain (02 April 2011)

7 Jun

I wanted to tell him
I knew what he was going through
but I couldn’t

because I’ve never wanted to kill myself

my stories are insignificant
and yet, when I finally said
I know all these feelings

he paused in his descent
he ripped himself from his gloom
he stared at me

and awoke my pain


writing in university (25 Sept 2010)

26 Sep

I wrote a poem
it held a big idea in it
and it presented itself
en mas, an image

visceral in essence
and complicated in words
and when I put a pen to it
it landed at my feet

way too quickly
with intuitive leaps
larger than my mental canyon
and even though I thought

I could guide it
– and others to it –
it ran too far ahead of me
and the words I needed to use

to explore the vast terrain
of empathy
  not pity
fell over flat and contradictory

though the pen tried all the same
and those who listened with their hearts
said how beautiful, and those who listened
with their mind said you lost me

Feeling my way into giving feedback

2 Aug

Week 3 ~

What a difference going first makes. Last week I felt completely short-changed by the whole feedback process of the workshop, fielding my contribution last and with little time. This week, I stepped up first, into the undiluted attention of twelve writing enthusiasts.

I can’t say there was a consensus of opinion or interpretation (this is pleasing), but I can say that their collective mulling was able to… ‘get me’. Oh I imagine every established writer has shouldered more than their fair share of responsibility in being understood by the reader, and I imagine too it’s a very important first step to being established.

So why am I so pleased they worked a little harder to understand what it was I was saying? Did I do something better this week, or did they work a little harder? I felt less excited about what I offered this week, a little constricted on what I delivered, and yet… the feedback was genuinely supportive and positive. Not like last week.

Going first or last makes a huge difference, and I suspect we’re all warming up to each others’ ways.

It is our second workshop and we are developing roles. There’s the guy who hates an intangible observation (do you really believe that could happen?), there’s a self-appointed pronoun policeman (who is this you? Was anyone else surprised by this you turning up?), there’s a woman with scissors in her editorial hands ready to cut and paste the arrangement into a new collage. There’s a guy who comments considerably on format, line breaks, capital letters, indents and the like. And there’s the woman who isn’t at all shy to say; I just don’t get it. These are all helpful roles.

What’s my critiquing role? I’m a little shy of it. See, I don’t think it’s unique or particularly specialised, yet it is where my gut response lies.

My native response sounds something like this: I like this poem. It’s delicate, I wish I were there, or, Wow, I feel really affirmed as a human being reading that. Or conversely; hmmm, I wasn’t able to travel with you on that. You lost me somewhere. I guess I want to connect with the journey rather than analysise how we got there.

I know what I consider a good poem or prose because I become inspired and want, in fact; must write a response to it. But it needs contemplative space, space that’s a little bit more spacious than a 3 hour workshop with 13 bodies sitting in a circle.

Does that give me an editing role in the circle? I’m not sure yet. I approach with a slightly awkward veneer, and wonder, as I yelp out my responses, if I will remain swaddled in the big fat paws of an enthusiastic puppy, endearing and guileless, for the remainder of the course. Is there space for me to evolve into a more delicate creature of critique; a cat purring at something refined and elegant, and of course, delectable?

In my opinion, it takes a clear and equally empathetic mind to offer good feedback, and in these workshops I’m much impressed with the astute observations of what works and what doesn’t, and why. There are obviously some experienced editors here. Their seasoning is a little intimidating. I kinda like that. I’m on my own fringe of comfort here and those spaces that I call intimidating are where I can stretch into first.

And grow from there.

If I follow that advice, this evolution seems pretty well mapped.

fear in living (7 July 2010)

10 Jul

he says; there is more fear in living
like one atom, one chromosome
slid away from Everything
and in this, he lost a crucial memory

and if the last breath were to resolve
as a chant resolves into nothingness
like a dying cinder of unity
and placed between his lips

and if he were told, this breath
in, or the absence of, holds the secret
of all connections, how fragile it is then
to live not knowing

how frightening to forget
he was ever connected
nor knowing if ever he will be again
in this life time

the whole person (22 June 2010)

10 Jul

I am not ever a known
(that’s a whole lot of exploring
and exposing to agitate) and
while some visibility might suit me
it really is a distraction
to seek to be known

I am not even a known
my ideas are not clever
my words not particularly
special, though a sentiment
climbs out the basement
and someone somewhere claims;
  hey, that’s my shadow!

I am not ever a known
even when a seed of me
can be harvested in your life
like a random affirmation
of good timing
even then when you think you
know me, it is only because it is you
  you see

I am not even a known
my quality and form are shaped
like yours, two eyes, a nose
a mouth, words of an English
sound between two lips like any
and it is only because a blue print
‘worked like magic’ that an alien
can appear not so dissimilar

I am not ever a known
and you would injure me
if you said you knew me
  inside out
because then I would have to substitute
that into my being
wearing an idea that I thought sounded pleasing

touched (15 April 2010)

29 Jun

we can cry for a baby mouse
disable in the chase of cat n mouse
and we can cry for our broken

dream where it feels like
the universe has taken sides
  against us

it is the same open heart that cries
allowing compassion
to show how truly vast

our heart has become

thank you for sharing (Oriah)
the cracks in your heart
shed light into thousands and

I am touched by your perfectness

an angry man (10 Dec 2006)

7 Aug

I can’t write of an angry man
(that’s who you say you are)
I can’t write how the fire

  (dark shadows)
  flares and snarls
  about vengeance

  and justice
and becomes the intense

You know you are searching
  don’t you
You know that who you
  really are

is who you feed
and your home
  is what your eyes build

You know your dreams
  can bring you back
  as pen to paper

  as fingers to guitar
what you let go of (it wasn’t stolen)
  is already with you

(and that is what you are searching for)

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