Tag Archives: National Association for Poetry Therapy conference

This Summer: Ukuleles, Beyond Bars, and (new!) Our Writing


Gather the women; save the world. — Jean Shinoda Bolen

It’s been a busy spring and summer for Women Writing for (a) Change here in Jacksonville.  We finished up our Spring Series in early May, held our first Public ReadAround mid-May, and began our Summer Series at the Women’s Center in early June.

Public ReadAround at Coast Occasions in Jax Beach

Public ReadAround at Coastal Occasions in Jax Beach

In the mix of all that, I presented a workshop at the National Association of Poetry Therapy in Scottsdale called Song of the Soul, which I repeated in Austin on June 5 and will conduct again in New York City in August. (My ukulele plays a key role.)

Plus, we also held our first ever Feed Your Creative Soul Art and Writing Retreat at the Evervess Studio in May, mixing art and writing, a little dance, and even some delicious organic food from Down to Earth Farm here in Jax.  Maybe you heard our promo spot on NPR’s Morning Edition?  If not, listen to it on our media page here.

Feed Your Creative Soul Retreat

Feed Your Creative Soul Retreat

Speaking of publicity, it was fun to get another article published on us, this time in Jacksonville Magazine (here’s the link). Also had fun presenting on compassion for PechaKucha Night in St. Augustine on May 14.

I’ve got one more session planned for the Summer Series at the Women’s Center, in which I’m writing with the formerly incarcerated women of the Women Renewed program. They are getting training and finding employment to transition to self-sufficiency “beyond bars,” in the outside world. (Thanks so much to all of you who have funded our effort with the GoFundMe campaign!

This is a magical, miraculous experience, let me tell you.  I am so amazed by the tenderness, the thoughtfulness, the poetry of these women.  Whatever assumptions I may have had going into this (and I tried not to have any) have been shattered.  They so totally and completely GET it.  And their writing ROCKS.

In fact, we’re going to have a “private” ReadAround at the Women’s Center next week, after we finish our last session Monday. So watch for some posts on that, I hope.

Collage from the Women Renewed Series at the Women's Center.

Collage from the Women Renewed Series at the Women’s Center.

I was especially thrilled because my daughter, Camille, has been able to assist me at several of these circles, which has been good for her and for me.  She can see what I’m doing and get exposure to a world that she has not seen up close before.  This is good for everyone.

Not to mention, I finished two videos on The Conscious Feminine and posted to the media page on our site.  Check them out here; I’d love your feedback.  I also decided recently to become the Regional Coordinator for Gather The Women, an international group of women who are holding sacred circles to promote peace and prosperity for all, based on the book The Millionth Circle by Jean Shinoda Bolen.  I’ll be holding a regional event in March 2015 in honor of  National Women’s History Month.  More to come on all of that.

I am looking forward to our Fall Series starting September 10, 2014, for which we actually only have a couple spots left.  Register by August 1 for the Early Bird Rate of $300.  You can register here.  You can also sign up for the Fall Sampler on Wednesday, August 27, which should be a lot of fun.  Register for that here.

Manatee musings (image credit Wikipedia)

Manatee musings (image credit Wikipedia)

But the MOST TIMELY reason I’m writing is because I wanted to encourage you to check out a NEW page of our website, which is called Our Writing, in which we feature some of the women writers who have participated in our circles.  Check out “You Found Me” (tender and lovely) and Naturally Curly Hair” (hilarious).  I guarantee you will enjoy them.

I hope all of you are enjoying a slightly slower pace this summer.  After a spate of travel, I myself spent the last couple days in my garden, catching up on mulching and weeding and filling up all of my bird feeders.  The bluebirds have built a nest in my new bluebird box, and the eggs have hatched! I’m thrilled to rest and enjoy the haze of summer as I sit on my garden bench and dream of new ideas and more circles of Women Writing for (a) Change.

Peace to all of you.

p.s. check out more info and stories on our new Facebook Page!  And please “like” us if you want regular updates.

A message from the birds




Song of the Soul in Scottsdale

I am one who
gets a kick out of squawking loudly
and hasn’t forgotten how to play..

I am one who
jumps into things headlong
and cries out, Why do I doubt? 

I am one who
who flies with buntings
and keeps on singing.

 I am one who
stands on straws hollow, light, yet strong,
and dances to the sails of circling clouds.
I am one who
is serene inside the colors that I am,
and mirrors back the truth or lies you tell the world.
I am one who
sleeps at night,
and sees both the curve of the planet and the whisker of the mouse.
I am one who
spies on cardinals,
and knows that attention is life.
I am one who
lives alone and with others,
and flies on the line between fierceness and forgiveness.
— Group Poem, Song of the Soul Workshop, Compiled by Jennifer Wolfe
National Association for Poetry Therapy Conference
Scottsdale, Arizona
April 26, 2014

I choose to risk my significance


Found in the desert.

Found in the desert.

I Will Not Die An Unlived Life

by Dawna Markova

I will not die an unlived life 
I will not live in fear 
of falling or catching fire. 
I choose to inhabit my days, 
to allow my living to open me, 
to make me less afraid, 
more accessible, 
to loosen my heart 
until it becomes a wing, 
a torch, a promise. 
I choose to risk my significance; 
to live so that which came to me as seed 
goes to the next as blossom 
and that which came to me as blossom, 
goes on as fruit. 


I Choose to Risk My Significance

My son turned 17 years old today.
That seems so different than 16…
so much older.

I had an insight last week,
working with a friend,
that maybe,
just maybe,
I was holding him back.
Holding on, keeping him
dependent on me

I don’t want him to leave me.

I didn’t know that.
I knew it was a dangerous edge,
this needing him to need me,
but I didn’t see that underneath
I was sneaking around,
trying to hold back time,
to make him the dear sweet little boy again,

so afraid
so afraid
so afraid
of losing him.

I found myself
reading the book about him
as a child, instead of as a teen.
I brought him two books from the library,
children’s books, I hoped he’d read.

But no.
But no.
But no.
He is 17.

He is a young man. He is growing and I cannot
I cannot
I cannot
hold on to him.

I couldn’t if I tried.
I must
I must
I must
risk my significance, and believe
he does not need me
to live anymore.
He is free.

—Jennifer Wolfe
Written during the National Association for Poetry Therapy Conference 2014, Scottsdale, Arizona, as inspired by
the poem I Will Not Die an Unlived Life and by Robert Merrit’s workshop titled, “Great Delight”: Writing to the Chaos of Emotion” 

Poetry in the Desert



Each day a bird would shelter
in the withered branches of a tree
that stood in the idle of a vast, deserted plain.
One day a whirlwind uprooted the tree,
forcing the poor bird to fly a hundred miles
in search of shelter—
till it finally came to a forest
of fruit-laden trees.
If the tree had survived,
nothing would have induced
the bird to give up its security and fly.
— Anthony DeMello, One-Minute Wisdom

Desert rose

Desert rose

I’ve written a lot of poetry this month.  I took up the write-one-poem-a-day challenge of the National Poetry Writing Month and had a lot of fun with it.

The good thing about writing one poem a day is, as William Stafford’s son pointed out, you don’t have to write a GOOD poem every day.

The month culminated in presenting a workshop for the National Association for Poetry Therapy conference in Scottsdale, Arizona.  Which is in the middle of a desert. Which is where I literally found myself, the little bird that once sat in a dead tree tree, perched in a “healing garden” filled with fruit-laden trees.
You don’t get more poetic than that!

Well, actually, you can:
A tiny goldfinch, the symbol of resurrection, appeared on a water fountain in front of me as I sat in the garden with an old friend.

So there you are.
Poetry, in real life.
(Check out my favorite photos from my visit on my FB site.)

To celebrate, I’ve selected three poems to share. One is a found poem, collected as ReadBack lines from the Open Mic night we had at the conference.  I wasn’t quite ready to share any poetry yet, so, I played my ukulele to open the show.  Which was risky and vulnerable and lots of fun.  And then I wrapped the night with the ReadBack lines.  Which was magical.

The second poem I wrote at the conference.  The third is a group poem I compiled from the participants in my workshop. I’ll share those in a separate post.

So, here we go.

Open Mic Night
Alchemy at the Jung Institute in Asheville.
What I see here are beautiful lotus flowers,
and their words are hard and heartfelt.
It was a kindness.
My house is stuffed.
I shiver shards of broken wishes.
I made wonder my roof.
I whisper secrets to the moon.
Back to bread.  Back to wine.
The river’s cool color never repeats.
My arms are uncannily light.
A paradoxical experience.
Low doorways and open space.
An artist who dreamed in circles.
He’d been inspired by a poem.
As one free sky-seeking lark ascending.
I saw hundreds of spiders in the shower.
Nothing but a bird’s nest, I wept.
One night I dreamed my head was full of feathers.
Ancient swollen spiky thumbs.
It’s about a rose being a rose, thorns and all.
Who is an emperor without clothes or a throne?
Turn your gold into God.
Time to get out of the gene pool.
Always I find my maps at AAA.
Squeezed tight and flustered,
there she will be.
Then will come the Goddesses.
Love gifts will flood the void.
Each moment is the was of the next.
This has been my most beautiful day on the water.
Hear the silence in the spaces.
Why am I concerned with worry?
I am tainted by the inevitable fall.
Will I find the smooth taste of awareness again?
I’m here to journey.
I’m here to journey.
Everyone can be free in the now.
First the clearing away.
I can make a hole with my finger.
Pulling the long root of a weed.
You love him, they teased.
A thick salmon in your mouth.
You are a poet if you write a poem.
Instead of right angles, slopes.
The precision given in that answer.
They only attack when they are scared.
Both wild, both endangered,
they understood each other.
Yes, we both say to olives.
With perfect moments, completely out of place.
Wet nose up the back of a visitor’s skirt.
Better get cracking!
I am very tenderly rinsing,
covered by the indignities of illness.
An urgent love that longs to be enough to raise the dead.
How we played Gotcha Last every night, and you always let me win.
Until I was 21, and you left us.
It’s a memoir in poems.
Effigies of horror burned.
Let the weeping begin.
Does my anger scare you?
Like you’re the mother fuckin’ president of something.
Dreams take the form of rocks.
The abyss of sweet dreams.
— Read-back lines from poetry open mic night at
the National Association of Poetry Therapy Conference
Compiled by Jennifer Wolfe April 25, 2014