Tag Archives: resources

Book notes: Beyond Survival

cover for the book Beyond SurvivalI just recently discovered the book Beyond Survival: A Writing Journey for Healing Childhood Sexual Abuse by Maureen Brady, and I’m glad to be able to add it to the Writing Ourselves Whole library.

Published in 1992, this is a collection of 52 writing exercises specifically focusing on issues around healing from sexual trauma; the idea is that you give yourself a year to explore through writing your own healing: week 2: Breaking the silence; week 15: But who am I?; week 32: Sexuality; week 49: Trust.

The exercises are much more directive than I offer in the Write Whole workshops, in that they ask the writer to specifically consider different parts of our life and struggle after experiencing sexual trauma: write what you remember about the abuse, write what you lost by keeping secrets,  write what you’re afraid will happen if you trust people — each week’s exercise includes a page or so of discussion about that theme or issue. You could respond to these exercises for yourself or for your characters (if you’re working with a character who is a survivor of sexual violence, writing in response to some of these exercises could be an excellent way to learn more about them and their lives).

Beyond Survival seems like it would make a good companion for folks working with The Courage to Heal, but is also a  powerful tool on its own, regardless of how long you have been wrangling with the aftermath of trauma.

More as I read through this new find!

Amazing writing opportunities at PSR this summer!

Reposting a message I received from the folks at the Pacific School of Religion (I might not have looked there for transformative writing experiences, but just look what I would have missed!) If you’ve never had a chance to write with Pat Schneider, and you can make this workshop, I’d encourage you to sign up right this minute — it’ll change your life.





PSR’s Summer Session runs July 5 – August 13.  http://www.psr.edu/summer

For all Bay Area writers and followers of Pat Schneider:

Creative Writing Workshop with Pat Schneider.
The purpose of this workshop is twofold: (1) to enable the artist in each person to become more free, more able to write, and (2) to model a methodology for using writing to create a healing community. There will be an additional, optional session on Tuesday evening, open to the public, for the showing of the 23-minute international award-winning documentary film Tell Me Something I Can’t Forget, and a discussion on how to use this workshop method to empower low-income persons and others who are under-served. There are no required readings or papers for this workshop, but prompt attendance at all sessions will be considered a serious responsibility. Pat offers an optional private conference to each workshop participant, including, if desired, response to 7 pages of double-spaced unpublished prose or three poems. Manuscripts should be given to her at the first meeting of the workshop.
$960.  Monday-Friday, August 2-6, 9am-1pm, Pacific School of Religion, Berkeley.
http://www.psr.edu/summer-2010-schedule | 510.849.8267.
Email summer@psr.edu to request enrollment. Limited enrollment of 12 students.

Also of interest to writers and poets:

Writing as Healing Ministry class with Sharon Bray
Writing is an art form that belongs to every one of us.  It is also a powerful tool for healing.  In recent years, a growing body of research shows that the simple act of writing down thoughts and feelings helps people with chronic illness improve their health.  But the healing power of writing extends well beyond physical illness.  Writing also reduces stress, discharges complex emotions and helps us gain perspective.  When we suffer pain or loss, writing about our feelings can help to relieve our burdens, establish a perspective, and cope more effectively with life’s hardships.  Writing helps us integrate our physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. It can be a kind of prayer—one in which you don’t ask for anything, except to know your own experience and to make meaning of it.  “Writing as a Healing Ministry” is designed to provide an overview of the field of therapeutic or healing writing for lay ministers, clergy, healthcare or helping professionals.  In this intensive week-long course, we will explore how writing can heal ourselves and others.  Class activities will include an overview of  the research on therapeutic writing, review of several different writing methodologies used to help individuals heal from pain, suffering and trauma, small group discussion and individual writing exercises.
$345.  Monday-Friday, July 19-23, 1:30 pm-5:30pm, Pacific School of Religion, Berkeley.
http://www.psr.edu/summer-2010-schedule | 510.849.8267 | summer@psr.edu.
The Unrealized: Poetry and the Sacred class with Albany poet laureate, Christina Hutchins.
Does the “unrealized” inform contemporary Christianity?  For many artists, poets, composers, and inventors, the mystery of the creative process evokes both awe and a faith sufficient for performing the often painstaking labor of bearing something “new” into human experience. For five intense days together, we will explore the sacred and ancient mystery of being “lured” toward/into the “never-before.”  In-class poetry writing and reading provide models for our own experiences of “the unrealized.” Both beginning and experienced writers are welcome.
$345.  Monday-Friday, August 9-13, 9:00am-1:00pm, Pacific School of Religion, Berkeley.
http://www.psr.edu/summer-2010-schedule | 510.849.8267 | summer@psr.edu.

Poetry as a Spiritual Practice Saturday workshop with Ellen Bass, renowned Santa Cruz poet, author and teacher.
Like prayer, poetry is a path to seeing the divine in the ordinary. All poetry had its roots in religion—as ritual for both celebration and lamentation. And poetry continues to ask the essential questions: who are we? why are we here? where are we going?  In this workshop, we’ll talk about poetry as a spiritual practice and read some poems which reflect this. Then we’ll write our own poems by paying close attention and striving to be accurate through the use of detail and description. There will be an opportunity to share our poems for those who wish to do so.  Both beginning and experienced writers are welcome.
$155.  Followed by a free public poetry reading by Ellen Bass.  Saturday, July 10, 10:00am-4:00pm, Pacific School of Religion, Berkeley.
http://www.psr.edu/summer-session-2010-workshops | 510.849.8267 | summer@psr.edu.

Poetry Reading with Ellen Bass, renowned Santa Cruz poet, author and teacher.
Ellen Bass gives a reading of her poetry, including works from her latest book.  The Human Line, Bass’ seventh book of poems, startles with its precise detail, intimate images, and wild metaphors. Bass brings attention to life’s endearing absurdities, and many of the poems flash with a keen sense of humor. She also faces many of the crucial moral dilemmas of our time—genetic engineering, environmental issues, continuous war, heterosexism—and grounds her vision in the small, private workings of the heart.  This event follows Bass’ day-long “Poetry as a Spiritual Practice” workshop.

Free.  Saturday, July 10, 4:30pm, Pacific School of Religion, Berkeley.  No registration necessary.
http://www.psr.edu/summer-session-2010-workshops | 510.849.8267 | summer@psr.edu.


‘new’ survivors

Peace March flyer - be the change you wish to see This weekend, a couple of amazing women (thank you Kiki and Elicia!) organized a Peace March and Rally in Richmond, CA, to raise our voices and gather our energies in support of the high school student who was recently raped by a mob of young men — and, too, to speak out against all sexual violences: against all sexualized violence, against all the messages we teach our children equating masculinity with violence, femininity with passivity, against rape as a weapon of war, against sexualized violence as a part of our every day lives.

After missing the first part of the rally, Fresh! and I got to ride alongside the march for a minute, honking, making a whole lotta noise — and we were met with the voices and shouts of the marchers! Then he dropped me off and I jogged to catch up with the small march, raised my voice — it felt good to shout, and I had to cough a couple of times after being so loud: it seems my voice box has grown unaccustomed to loud chanting — and that’s one reason I understood it was good that I was there.

It’s been several years, it seems, since I participated in this sort of anti-sexual violence/pro-peace-for-all rally. It’s been several years since I walked through quiet neighborhoods and shouted: No Rape! No Rape! Was the last time in Maine? How could that be?

It’s not that I haven’t gathered, haven’t witnessed and participated. The last rally in Richmond, last year, for another gang-rape survivor, was a mostly silent candle-lit vigil. That sort of gathering carries its own weight — all of our stories, all of our friends’ and families’ stories, candlit and hungry, sitting just inside our mouths, held and honored and shared in that big big quiet.

I became aware, during the public rage that followed reports of this assault, messages and articles and furious notes I read and listened to online and from friends, of my presence in the aftermath. It’s where I live and work: in the aftermath of sexual violence. the workshops I facilitate, the writing I do, it’s about the after-story — what comes next. All the words I use are prefaced with “re-“: reclaim, restitution, resurrect. Doing over. Taking back. I don’t live anymore in the place of before. Because I can’t. My own body is an aftermath.

And so it was that I felt, too, on this Saturday, that our gathering was kind of the saddest sort of welcoming committee for this young woman. She is one of us now. She has a new name: survivor. Victim. The debates bat those words back and forth, but the fact is that she wears them now. Like we do. She has been violently delivered to our side of the battle ground. And we are standing up to show her she is among our kind now; we put our hands around her and we tend her wounds. These wounds are of her now. She lives in and with them. As we do, too.

I don’t want this for her. I don’t want this for her family or friends. I don’t want this for any of us. I want other options. I don’t want any more rallies of survivors to have to gather at the gates of the next rape, the next rape, the one happening right now. Right now. Right now. Right now. Right now. I want us to be able to disperse these energies, move on to other work — raise our voices in praise of love, not in rage and sorrow.

I raged on Saturday, was grateful for all those gathered, and on Sunday I cried. I felt, again, the big, high vision of the hawk that flew over our gathering toward its end: from up high, I can see that this change won’t manifest in my lifetime. I won’t live to see it. But if I don’t continue to hold on to the hope, hold hands open to the possibility that we as humans can learn to relate to and with one another through something besides the veil of violence and rage, then I close one more light shining the way — does that make sense?

I don’t see how we can make the changes we want to make. I don’t see how we can get there, when sexualized violence is an ever-present option for men, for women, for anyone in power over any other one. I can’t see it. I can’t.

But — here’s the but: I stand together with a group of folks who might otherwise pass one another on the street in judgment, we raise our voices too loud, just loud enough for a Saturday morning neighborhood, we listen to one another’s words and possibilities, we hear young men and women stating new ways, and I hold my hands open to the change one more time. I let my heart imagine it. I listen to men hold men accountable. I listen to women holding one another accountable. We are accountable to one another or there’s nothing left.

If we don’t keep working — which means imagining, which means speaking the possible — saying, yes, this can change. We can change — there’s nothing for the next generations carrying the torch, lighting the way. Right?

I don’t want to be in one more ‘welcoming’ committee, bringing blankets and hotdish and tea and notebooks and pens and oranges and candles to the newly fallen — and still, yes, that’s where my work is right now.

How do we reframe (there it is again: re: frame) this — life? This human-ness?

Does this make sense? Tell me what you think —

Free “Funding for the Arts” classes in San Francisco in October

Another writer with whom I’ve worked recently forwarded the following information from the Foundation Center —

“For those who are in the bay area, the Foundation Center focuses on Funding for the arts in October. The whole month is filled with different free classes relating to funding for artists and arts organizations. Please see link below for information and registration:

Some of the upcoming workshops include:

NEW WRITERS NIGHT on October 8 –
Getting Your First Book Published @3:00 pm
The Journey to Being Discovered: First Time Authors Reveal All @5:30 pm


Grantseeking Basics for Individuals in the Arts @1:00 pm
The Business of Being an Artist @3:00 pm

We know there’s money out there for us writers — we just have to figure out how to ask for it!