The Backwards Book

book cover

‘The Backwards Book’ by Dr Niall Hickey, chapters one to eighteen, was serialised on this website from January 2013 to July 2014. Technological difficulties prevented us from posting the final four chapters, as intended, two in September and two in October. The book was at the final editing point and transferred to pdf mode, whereas the original Word document was not available to us in a fully edited version until a few days before publication and the book launch in Kilkenny on October 12th.

The irony was that this left faithful readers in mid-air. The mystery of who murdered Twitter Bird was unsolved, and moreover Sally the Sheep was left in a far worse pickle, because she had just been tossed by a villainous boatman into the deep waters of a lake. These cliff-hangers are resolved in the final chapters of the now fully-published book. In fact the entire book has undergone a series of revisions, in particular with regard to additions to the theoretical material presented.

The book is now on sale from Niall Hickey direct, or by postal delivery at the following rates:

‘THE BACKWARDS BOOK – Poetry Therapy from Theory to Practice’ by Niall Hickey

Illustrations are by James Moore with two colour plates by Don Conroy.

Published 2014 by Boland Press, Wexford, Ireland, ISBN: 978–1–907855–07-8

Collect € 15

Including packaging & posting:

IRELAND & NOTHERN IRELAND € 22 / £ 18 sterling

UNITED KINGDOM & EUROPE € 24 / £ 20 sterling

UNITED STATES & REST OF THE WORLD €28 / 35 $ US dollars

For postal purchases, bank draft or personal cheque in euro, sterling or US dollars is appropriate.

This is as far as we are aware the first of what we hope will be many Irish studies of poetry therapy, as the PT movement in Ireland and Northern Ireland grows and flourishes. In Britain and the US a library of works exists, used in their studies by poetry practitioners worldwide.

BOOK LAUNCH

The book launch took place at the end of the 3rd Irish PT convention in Kilkenny. For this year, the convention was hosted by IPTN (Irish Poetry Therapy Network, founded 2003). This magnificent event will no doubt be duly and more fully celebrated on the IPTN website. Huge credit is due to the IPTN committee who took on the organisation of this year’s convention, which was uniquely successful, high in quality, commitment, professionalism, enthusiasm and passion for PT. The book launch itself was a memorable event for its warmth and generous attendance, which included both James Moore the principal illustrator and the legendary Don Conroy, well-known for his TV and radio programmes and especially for his over fifty titles in art-books and illustrated stories for children.

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KILKENNY CELEBRATION: CAROL BOLAND IS ACCREDITED

There was joy and laughter in Kilkenny recently, when we celebrated the first iaPOETRY (US) accreditation of a PoetryReach trainee poetry practitioner.

Carol Boland is the first of our five trainees to achieve this goal. She submitted her portfolio to iaPOETRY in the US in February last, and her accreditation was granted in May. For geographical reasons it took us until August to organize our formal celebration of this hugely important event.

We celebrated by sharing a meal and by making a presentation to Carol to express our delight at her success. Below are photos of Carol with Ger Campbell, Theresa Kelly and Niall Hickey. Unable to attend, but with us in spirit, were our other two trainees, Shelley Treacy and Tina O’Connor.

Kilkenny at the moment replaces Maynooth as the Irish hub for poetry therapy. After two very successful international conventions in Maynooth in 2012 and 2013, our 2014 convention is organized by IPTN (the Irish Poetry Therapy Network) and will take place in Hotel Kilkenny on Saturday October 11th and Sunday October 12th. Further details will become available shortly.

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JAMES MOORE

Jamesis an artist and illustrator.   He is also a James Joyce fan, among other things. James was conferred with a degree in Fine Art from the Limerick School of Art and Design way back in 1994. He has worked at various arty jobs for a number of years, the last of which was as graphic and web designer for a Dublin software company. Nowadays he is involved with a creative partnership called At it Again! He has exhibited in a number of group and solo exhibitions in Ireland and Brazil. You can contact him via  www.jamesfrancismoore.com. James Moore’s subtle artistry is visible here in his illustrations for Chapter Eight of “The Backwards Book”.

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Poem of the Month for August

jenkins-john-2005-by-unknown_poet-bioJOHN JENKINS

Born 1949, in the bayside Melbourne suburb of Elwood, John Jenkins was formerly a journalist.   Sometimes associated with the group of poets known as the “Generation of ’68”, John was one of the first poets to read at Melbourne’s famous La Mama theatre and in the 1970’s he helped to write pop songs with various bands and musicians.   He now lives in Kangaroo Ground, a semi-rural area close to the Yarra Valley, on the outskirts of  Melbourne, Australia.   Recently published collections include “Growing up with Mr Menzies” and “Lucky for Some”.   He has also published a volume of experimental short fiction and a verse novel, A Break in the Weather” (2003).   He has co-written a number of books and poems with Ken Bolton.   As a non-fiction author and journalist, he writes variously on music, travel and the arts, including writing.   He has taken part in major festivals and events in Australia and overseas and collaborated on various projects with other writers, musicians and artists, sometimes teaching at colleges and universities.   He has been honoured in Ireland for his work on the great modernist novelist, James Joyce.

THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF

The man who lost himself woke up one morning,
and realised he had lost himself. Well, perhaps
not lost – just ‘misplaced’ or ‘overlooked’ –
so he checked all the usual places he might be,
throwing back the rumpled covers
of his bed, but there was only an outline,
a vague impression. Later that evening
he looked for himself under his chair,
then tried to find himself reflected
in the eyes of passing people in the street.
It’s true, they all looked like himself,
but were clearly not. He tried
to remember, back-tracking over
the week: writing a list, retracing
the movement of each day – to arrive
at the absolutely certain last place
he was before he lost himself.
It was frustrating, infuriating!
So he checked his wallet, then took off
his shoes, and shook then, peering at the soles;
he read the name on his credit cards,
and removed his jacket, and looked
at the label for a long time.   Perhaps he had
deliberately hidden himself somewhere,
as one hides something valuable, but had
just concealed himself far too well?
Until, one day, while not even looking,
he found a note he had written to himself:
each word carefully underlined:
‘Just in case you forget the place
where you hid yourself,
you will find me in the garden,
behind the summer house,
in the rain, in the sunshine.
It’s been a long time, but I
am still waiting for you there.’

—–JOHN JENKINS

(By kind permission of the author,
copyright retained, for educational 
and therapeutic use only.)

Here are some pointers to how you might use this poem therapeutically.   As always, we emphasise that your writing is for yourself only and not for website publication.

  1. Can you identify with the predicament of the man who has lost himself?
  2. If so, where have you looked for yourself?
  3. Can you say more about what you were looking for?
  4. The man wrote a note to himself.   Have you ever done this, and what form did the note take?   Was it written, in a journal, or was it etched in your memory?
  5. What do you make of the contradiction in the lines:
    “behind the summer house
    in the rain, in the sunshine”

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iaPOETRY and PoetryReach CONVENTION SEPTEMBER 2013

PoetryReach and iaPOETRY present

 PRECIOUS JEWELS AND BROKEN VASES:

FINDING A MAP BY EXPLORING POETRY THROUGH CREATIVE WRITING

 At the Glenroyal Hotel, Maynooth

Wednesday, 11th September – Sunday, 15th September, 2013

FEE:   Full Convention €300     Daily Rate €100

LILA PHOTOvictoria-field_200JILL TEAGUEGer CampbellCarol Boland

PROGRAMME

Wednesday, 11th September

6pm  7pm

REGISTRATION AND WELCOME BY NIALL HICKEY

7pm  9pm

WORKSHOP PRESENTED BY LILA WEISBERGER

“THE ART OF RESILIENCY –  POETRY THERAPY: AN EXPERIENTIAL JOURNEY”

 A LIFE VIEW OF NOT JUST SURVIVING BUT THRIVING
“Be like a good seismograph: sensitive enough to register what happens but strong enough not to be wrecked …”
“…human beings have to occupy that position between being so steady and dull that they can’t register, and being so sensitive that they’re wrecked by anything they register.”     —- William Stafford

Thursday, 12th September

 10am – 1pm

WORKSHOP PRESENTED BY JILL TEAGUE

“IN PIECES – FRAGMENTARY WRITING”

 And did you get what

you wanted from this life, even so?

I did.

To call myself beloved, to feel myself

beloved on this earth.     (“Late Fragment” – Raymond Carver)

Often we are moved or inspired by just a line or two of a poem or a piece of prose.   In many instances these “fragments” have a lasting resonance.   During this session we will explore fragmentary writing as a genre, using a wide range of contemporary fragmentary writing from diaries, notebooks and letters; aphorisms; short prose pieces and vignettes.

2pm – 5pm

WORKSHOP PRESENTED BY GER CAMPBELL

“FINDING THE TREASURE IN THE RIVER OF LIFE” 

the stories buried in the mountains

give out into the sea

and the sea remembers       (David Whyte)

As we journey through life so also does the river.  In this session we will explore our own hidden depths through writing and poetry.  Rivers feature in so many song titles, and as poetry and music nourish and sustain us so the river also nourishes the land through which it flows.  Together we will immerse ourselves in the creative flow of words and ideas and allow the current to take us on our own creative journey.

Friday, 13th September

 10am  1pm

WORKSHOP PRESENTED BY JILL TEAGUE

AMETHYST REMEMBRANCES

I held a jewel in my fingers

And went to sleep.

The day was warm, and winds were prosy;

I said: “’T will keep”.

I woke and chid my honest fingers,-

The gem was gone;

And now an amethyst remembrance

Is all I own.                              (Emily Dickinson)

2pm  5pm

WORKSHOP PRESENTED BY VICTORIA FIELD

THE CRACKED POT

This is an image that occurs in fables and parables in many traditions.   A water bearer carries two pots on a yoke across her back.   When she reaches her destination, the cracked pot is empty, all the water having leaked away.   However, over the weeks and months, flowers have grown all along the side of the path where the pot leaked.   There’s an image circulating on the net of a pot where the cracks have been filled with gold.   Leonard Cohen famously sang in Anthem, “There is a crack, a crack in everything / That’s how the light gets in”.   in this session, we will explore the therapeutic potential of this image in poetry, prose and collage.

Saturday, 14th September

10am – 1pm

WORKSHOP PRESENTED BY CAROL BOLAND

“THE MASK AND THE MUSIC”

When I talk to my friends I pretend I am standing on the wings

of a flying plane . . .’  Jason Shinder

The persona, for psychologist Carl Jung, was the social face the individual presented to the world, ‘a kind of mask, designed on the one hand to make a definite impression upon others, and on the other to conceal the true nature of the individual.’   The aim of this workshop is to guide participants along a path of self-discovery. It will explore the themes of identity and persona using specific poems, fun exercises and African music to encourage group discussion and creative writing.

2pm  5pm

WORKSHOP PRESENTED BY LILA WEISBERGER

“POETRY AS APPLAUSE”

 explore with humour, poems about waiting and wanting to be recognised.

DON’T SIGN YOUR BOOK WITH A LEAKY PEN!

“…..Work is what you have done

after the play is produced

and the audience claps.

Before the friends keep asking

when you are planning to go

out and get a job…..”

—–MARGE PIERCY

Sunday, 15th September

10am  12pm

WORKSHOP PRESENTED BY VICTORIA FIELD

R.S. THOMAS AS A SOURCE OF BURIED TREASURE FOR POETRY THERAPY

.…that was the pearl

of great price, the one field that had

treasure in it…’

The poetry of R.S. Thomas covers a wide variety of themes but nearly all of his work stems from his conflicted relationship with his country, Wales, and his struggle, even as a priest, to make sense of his spirituality.   His poems range from unflinching, unsentimental descriptions of rural life to metaphysical meditations on spirituality.   In this, his centenary year, he is more popular than evber, perhaps because “he attempted to make spiritually minded poems relevant within, and relevant to, a science-minded, post-industrial world”.   He was also a great bird watcher.   In this session, we will look at examples of his poems, discuss their therapeutic potential and write in response.

12.15pm  1.00pm

 CLOSING OF CONVENTION BY NIALL HICKEY

 GROUP POEM BY GER CAMPBELL

 

 FACULTY

LILA PHOTO LILA LIZABETH WEISBERGER

Lila is co-author of “The Healing Fountain: Poetry Therapy for Life’s Journey”, required reading for those training to become poetry therapists.   Lila has a rich professional background. Her most current book “The Art of Finding: a Memoir, Survivor’s Guide, Love Story” includes articles she wrote for a national poetry therapy newsletter for over twelve years. She is on the Editorial Board of the “Journal of Poetry Therapy”.

Lila is a New York State licensed Creative Arts Therapist, a Poetry Therapy Practitioner, a Master Mentor Supervisor, a Certified Alcohol and Substance Abuse Counsellor Emeritus and Educator.

Her profession as a School Psychologist led to many awards, as did her presidency of a National Poetry Therapy organisation. Her favourite quote on one of her awards is: ”what enters, enters like that,unstoppable gift”.

Lila is the founder of BridgXngs Poetry Centre, Inc, a New York State Educational Organisation which has members in the U.S., Ireland, Wales, Japan,New Zealand, Mexico, Jamaica and Canada, and also the founder and Creative Director of the International Academy for Poetry Therapy (iaPOETRY).   Her work as a poetry therapist includes a rich diversity of activities. Her trainees have honoured her with the title “Fairy Godmother of Poetry Therapy”.

victoria-field_200 VICTORIA FIELD

Victoria is a Certified Poetry Therapist, having qualified with the US National Association for Poetry Therapy. She has extensive experience of working in health and social care settings with many different client groups, including in primary care, in care homes for the elderly, on a stroke unit, with learning disabled adults and a wide variety of voluntary organisations. She has led many workshops and training courses, nationally and internationally, most recently in Kuwait. She is a former Director of Survivors Poetry and has had two periods as Chair of Lapidus, the Association for Literary Arts in Personal Development (www.lapidus.org.uk) . She is a regular tutor on the Writing in Health and Social Care programme at Ty Newydd, the National Writers Centre for Wales (www.tynewydd.org.uk ) and is a Short Course Tutor at University College Falmouth, teaching an Introduction to Therapeutic Writing one week professional development course.  She is also a Visiting Lecturer on an MSc in Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes (www.metanoia.ac.uk ).

She has co-edited three books on therapeutic writing, most recently Writing Routes (Jessica Kingsley, 2010, see www.jkp.com ). She has published two collections of poetry, Olga’s Dreams (2004) and Many Waters (2006) and co-authored a pamphlet with Caroline Carver and Penelope Shuttle, October Guests (2007). Her third collection, The Lost Boys is due in 2013. She is also a playwright and Hall for Cornwall has produced two of her plays. Some of her poems can be seen onhttp://www.poetrypf.co.uk/victoriafieldpage.shtml.

JILL TEAGUE JILL TEAGUE

Jill Teague is a Welsh poet and Poetry Therapy Practitioner based in Snowdonia, North Wales. Here she founded “Out of the Blue Writing”, where she facilitates writing groups, works with individuals and provides online courses.   She has developed a branch of her poetry therapy work called “Treading Softly – Writing in Nature” which combines walking and writing in the natural landscape.

She is Assistant Director of iaPOETRY (The International Academy for Poetry Therapy), NYC, and is a tutor and mentor/ supervisor for the academy – teaching, mentoring and training potential poetry therapy practitioners, both in the UK and the USA. She has received awards and scholarships from NAPT (National Association for Poetry Therapy) and Wales Arts International, for pioneering work in the field of poetry therapy, as well as scholarships from Bridgexngs Poetry Center, NYC. She is a visiting facilitator on the Mindfulness Course at the oncology department of Ysbyty Gwynedd and recently edited “Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Cancer” by Trish Bartley. (Wiley-Blackwell 2012)

She has had poetry and prose published in numerous poetry magazines and anthologies, the most recent being a series of poems in “Jericho” (Cinnamon Press 2012).

Ger CampbellGER CAMPBELL

Ger Campbell has been involved in the Poetry Therapy movement in Ireland from the outset.   A founder member of IPTN (the Irish Poetry Therapy Network) in 2003, she succeeded Niall Hickey as chairperson in 2005, a position she continues to hold.   Ger is an accredited full-time psychotherapist and addiction counsellor with the HSE in Waterford.   She has lectured and acted as co-ordinator for the NUIM certificate and diploma courses in Addiction Studies for many years.   Ger has facilitated inservice poetry therapy groups in many settings, including rape crisis centres, with addiction counsellors and in Life Long Learning.   She has participated in many international workshops and online PT groups, and recently coordinated an online IPTN group.   Her name is synonymous with PT in the Irish midlands, and she has involved many illustrious colleagues in our PT activities.   Her experience in the field could have earlier brought her accreditation many times over, but she has preferred to await the advent of training in this field becoming directly available in Ireland.   Ger is now in her final year of training with Dr Niall Hickey.

Carol BolandCAROL BOLAND

Carol Boland is a published poet and author who has facilitated writing and self-discovery workshops in Dublin,Wicklow and Wexford. She is a member of Irish Poetry Therapy Network (IPTN) and is in her final year of biblio/poetry therapy study with Dr. Niall Hickey (Maynooth), a mentor with iaPoetry (USA). Having completed her Counselling Skills Certificate with National University of Ireland, Carol is now training as a psychotherapist.

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Lila and Carol at ACTIONWEEK in the Big Apple
photo (2)

iaPOETRY trains international students in Poetry Therapy
at ACTIONWEEK each July in the heart of Manhattan.

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CONVENTION TIME IS HERE AGAIN!

July and August can be quiet months, if there is such a thing as a quiet month, in the counselling field.   People head for the sun, or enjoy what sun Ireland offers, which is a plentiful lot just at the moment!   In PoetryReach these are busy months, as our inaugural International Convention was scheduled for early September in 2012, and the event was so successful that we follow with the 2013 Convention this September.   Contact details and access to an application form may be seen above to the right of this text on your screen, dates and venue are indicated just above.   Much of the detail of workshops can be accessed on the above link, and missing items will be added as the data finds its way across the Atlantic.

Praise for last year’s workshops was universal among the enthusiastic participants.   Cost will be unchanged from last year at €300 for the full five days’ events, a slight increase to €100 for a single day’s attendance, €200 for two days’ attendance and €60 for attendance at a single workshop.

QUESTIONNAIRE

We’d like to know what’s liked most on the website, and why, what’s liked less, and why.   We’d welcome general questions about our activities and about poetry therapy.   We’d like to take a break and listen.   We’d also like to take a break to refresh our ideas.   After six to nine months, a system can become mechanical, so we’d like to hear what people might have to say and see what we might think ourselves about the system to follow from October onward, leaving July and August as an open opportunity for comment from those who read us, and September to run our convention.

WE WOULD VERY GREATLY APPRECIATE YOUR SPENDING JUST A LITTLE TIME IN FILLING UP THIS SIMPLE QUESTIONNAIRE.   EVEN IF YOU’VE READ LITTLE OF THE MATERIAL, OR NONE AT ALL, BECAUSE YOU HAVEN’T HAD TIME OR ARE COMING TO OUR WEBSITE FOR THE FIRST TIME, WE’D STILL LOVE TO HEAR YOUR IMPRESSIONS!   YOUR KIND FEEDBACK WILL HELP US ENORMOUSLY

POEMS OF THE MONTH

  1. Have you read the Poem of the Month for June?
  2. Have you read any previous Poems of the Month?
  3. How would you rate this as a website feature?
  4. Have you used any of these poems in a therapeutic context?

INTERNATIONAL BLOGS

  1. Have you read the July blog, and did you read previous blogs?
  2. Do these blogs interest you?   Could you comment?
  3. Was there one blog that particularly interested you?
  4. How would you rate these blogs as a website feature?

BACKWARDS BOOK

  1. Did you read the June chapter on Teddy Bears?
  2. Have you read any or all of the previous chapters?
  3. Is there a chapter that particularly interested you?
  4. How would you rate this serialization as a website feature?

ANY OTHER SUGGESTIONS?

THANK YOU FOR TAKING THE TIME TO READ US, AND IF YOU’VE FILLED OUT THE QUESTIONNAIRE THANKS AGAIN! IF YOU HAVEN’T, PLEASE RE-CONSIDER GIVING US VALUABLE FEEDBACK!

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