by Denita Stevens
Last summer Cherri invited me and my Pomeranian to EST for a poetry reading/signing for my book, Invisible Veils, which included an event for the public that followed a private event exclusively for the participants. Both events were held in the garden, which made it feel extra special being surrounded by colorful art projects made by the participants, flowers, and greenery. As expected, there was plenty of tea along with fruit and special treats, some of which were also made by the participants.
I sipped freshly brewed mint tea as I read a selection of poems, shared the origin of why I wrote each one of them and how they helped me cope with trauma, depression and anxiety. Throughout I emphasized why I gravitated toward poetry as a way of expressing thoughts and feelings I didn’t always feel comfortable sharing otherwise. The discussions were touching and helped me feel connected with those who were there, especially the participants who could relate to some of the feelings I’ve experienced as well.
After that wonderful experience I had hoped to return to EST again this summer to meet with the participants again to do something a little more hands on like a writing workshop. Because the day program has been running remotely since March, facilitating a workshop via Zoom was our only option. During our first virtual meeting in April, we covered blogging and potential ways to contribute to EST’s blog like some of the participants have already done, most recently in It’s https://extraspecialteas.myshopify.com/blogs/blog/its-best-to-start-the-day-with-an-open-mind and https://extraspecialteas.myshopify.com/blogs/blog/the-yellow-door-by-kara-curtin
We continued exploring writing and expression in July when we met online again, except this time I guided them through the process as a group in an effort to create something together. We started with the goal of writing a poem about summer. Initially we talked about what we liked about summer and from there I asked them to share more specifically how they experience summer through the different senses of sound, smell and taste. I loved how freely and enthusiastically they shared what they liked or didn’t liked. As we talked I wrote down the words they shared, but was a little disappointed I couldn’t capture how they smiled and their faces lit up as they spoke of the things they loved.
Once we wrapped up the meeting I sorted through the seven pages of notes and edited them into poems, which are posted below. Hope y’all enjoy reading these pieces full of joy as much we enjoyed creating them!
Note: most of the phrases and words are what they expressed with only a few deviations from the original.