October 30, 2007, 7:00 PM
A Sense of One's Self: Poetry in the Therapeutic Context
Participants: Michael Braziller, Karen Chase, Madge McKeithen, Alicia Ostriker
The release of creative energies in the face of traumatic experience is central to understanding the process of sublimation. Historically, poetry has been associated with some of the most basic expressions of human developmental processes, primarily due to its concision and simplicity. In addition, poetry has long been recognized as having a unique relationship to primary or unconscious thought processes. This panel will examine the use of poetry as a form of therapy in three different contexts: as a tool in dealing with schizophrenia, as a way of mediating the pain of family illness, and as a means of providing a coping mechanism for individuals dealing with their own illness. In times of stress, illness, and loss the reading and/or writing of poetry can provide comfort and meaning. Each of the panelists will both read and discuss poetry that has evolved in a therapeutic context.
Michael Braziller (moderator) is the Publisher of Persea Books, a literary press he co-founded in 1975. He is the director of the Philoctetes Center Poetry Program.
Karen Chase's poems have appeared in The Gettysburg Review, The New Yorker, The New Republic and Southwest Review. Bear, a collection of her poems, will be forthcoming in 2008. She was the poet in residence at New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center, teaching poetry to severely disturbed psychiatric patients. She is the author of Land of Stone: Breaking Silence Through Poetry, which deals with her experience at Rosedale Hospital writing poetry with a schizophrenic young man who refused to speak.
Madge McKeithen teaches writing at The New School and in private workshops. Her first book Blue Penninsula: Essential Words for a Life of Loss and Change is about turning to poetry when she learned that he son had an unknown degenerative disease.
Alicia Ostriker is the author of eleven volumes of poetry, most recently the volcano sequence and No Heaven. Her most recent critical studies are Dancing at the Devil's Party: Essays on Poetry, Politics and the Erotic and For the Love of God: The Bible as an Open Book. She has received awards and fellowships from the NEA, the Guggenheim and Rockefeller Foundations, the Poetry Society of America and the San Francisco State Poetry Center, and has twice been a finalist for a National Book Award. Ostriker is Professor Emerita of Rutgers University and teaches in the Low-Residency MFA program at New England College. She has written about her own experiences with breast cancer in The Mastectomy Poems.
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