Tuesday, May 19, 2009

What Will I Write About?

A true poet does not bother to be poetical. Nor does a nursery gardener scent his roses. ~Jean Cocteau
The poetry of the earth is never dead. ~John Keats

Spring is my favorite season. Tulips, daffodils and crocuses poke their heads up through the earth, and brown, dry grass gives way to a lush, green carpet. Nature allows things to quietly unfold. There’s no rush – all the flowers that will ever bloom take their time, knowing their natural beauty will eventually appear.

Every spring, we can count on the natural order of things to unfold as they should. If I can have faith in that simple truth, why don’t I trust in the same process, when it comes to my gifts?

Last week, I attended Ideal-Way’s first poetry workshop. Our first National Poetry Competition is underway, and one of our volunteers suggested we bring together a group of intellectually disabled individuals, to give them some basic knowledge in creating a poem. Our aim was to create an atmosphere of fun, first and foremost.

And it was fun. We played games, recited playful, interactive poems, and then asked them to fill in the blanks of a poem.

No one asked for a special pencil – “Excuse me, but I can only write with the HB #2 pencil my Grandma gave me when I was five” - or a good luck talisman guaranteed to ward off mental blocks. Although there were a few tentative smiles, every person jumped in with both feet.

Almost every poet stood at the front of the room, and either had their poem read out by a caregiver, or read it themselves. The same look of triumph lit up each face. If they were worried about the outcome, this fear was eclipsed by a desire to let their light shine.

To be honest, I would rather have root canal without anesthesia than stand before people and read my work. I marveled at their willingness, or rather, their eagerness, to walk through their fears. As one blogger noted, “when you walk through your fears, your faith in yourself will grow, allowing your next step to be easier.”

I just need to follow their lead: loosen my grip on the outcome, and trust in the process. If I take a small step, and wait for my gifts to quietly unfold, they will begin to emerge, slowly but surely, like flowers in the spring.

But why stop there? Why not offer workshops, events, exhibitions, and contests for the intellectually disabled? In short, by offering them various opportunities to unearth hidden talents, we give them the opportunity to shine. Judging by their faces, they are more than willing to explore new territory, if given half a chance.

That’s the gift I unwrapped, later, from the first Ideal-Way Poetry Workshop, held at Christian Horizons, in Toronto.
(See slideshow in sidebar for photos of our first poetry workshop.)
Photo credit: Dan Lee

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