• How is writing and reading helping?

    Wee Read has been slowly building plans for some community engagement in Glasgow.Christine has a few regular groups, in the Maggie’s Centre, Lanarkshire and Glasgow Buddhist Centre. Adrian continues at Stonehouse Hope Cafe and is doing a 1-1 project.The people who come to our groups find it very helpful, sometimes emotional, very supportive and one cancer patient said:

    “Christine, THIS is my therapy!”

    Some extend their reading at home with a new-found or revived enjoyment of poetry and other creative writing. It is obvious to me how it helps, when there is an improvement in their writing over a period of time, as well as their willingness to share their more personal and profound ideas.

    It’s good to see a continuing interest and valuable research in the healing power of words. Here is a link to a BBC Future article that explores how writing may affect physical healing…

    “… the field psychoneuroimmunology has been exploring the link between what’s now known as expressive writing, and the functioning of the immune system. The studies that followed examined the effect of expressive writing on everything from asthma and arthritis to breast cancer and migraines. In a small study conducted in Kansas, for example, it was found that women with breast cancer experienced fewer troublesome symptoms and went for fewer cancer-related appointments in the months after doing expressive writing.”

    Some of the research shows that wound healing can have a short-term benefit with some people, however there are always limits and people respond differently.

     

     

     

     

  • Let’s get bibliotherapy widespread!

     

     

    Weeread2ndlot (18 of 30) (640x424)Photos by D.M Fox

    If you wish to find out more about what is happening in the work around bibliotherapy, here are some

    News and Events for Scotland

    See what is on at public libraries through CILIPS and the National Library in the next year or so. There is an ‘Open Book‘ project you may wish to contact if you live near Edinburgh.

    Why don’t you come to the

    Words Work Well for All Workshops

    at Glasgow Women’s Library on the 18th of March? Sir Kenneth Calman will give a talk and he is Chair of The National Library. You can also get the chance to network with other people working in this field.Tickets are only £10 here:

     

    The workshops look really interesting :

    PROGRAMME WORKSHOPS

    Out Of The Box: Writing in the Archives with Donna Moore Using the treasures in Glasgow Women’s Library’s museum and archive to inspire creative writing. From Suffragettes to Sewing Patterns, from Radical Posters to Roller Derby, from Bunty to Badges – GWL’s collections are a cornucopia for creativity.

    Donna spends her time surrounded by words and women’s history – whether in her role as Adult Literacy and Numeracy Development Worker at Glasgow Women’s Library, as part of her Creative Writing PhD at the University of Stirling, or as co-host of the annual crime fiction convention CrimeFest.

    Balance for Life: when the wind blows the tree bends – tai-chi, poetry & healing with Larry Butler Each tai-chi move is a metaphor, each move could be the title of a poem and playing tai-chi can boost your immune system.

    Larry writes poetry, teaches tai-chi, editor PlaySpace Publications and convenor for Lapidus Scotland, and facilitates writing groups in health and social care settings.

    The Mother Tongue: how language shapes us – with Helen Lamb Everybody has a private vocabulary, which they may not even be fully aware of. Some expressions are handed down through generations; you might suddenly hear yourself repeating something to your own children that was often said to you as a child. This workshop will explore some of our earliest experiences and memories of language and use them to inspire poems and stories.

    Helen is a poet and fiction writer and has published a short story collection, Superior Bedsits, and a poetry collection, Strange Fish. Helen has facilitated creative writing groups for Forth Valley Health Board, Falkirk & District Association for Mental Health, the Maggie’s centre in Edinburgh, and for Open Secret, a confidential service for adult survivors of childhood abuse.

    Learning through Stories – a 20 minute talk with Sir Kenneth Calman

    Ken is Chairman of the National Library of Scotland; Chancellor of the University of Glasgow. Former Chief Medical Officer for Scotland then England & Wales; He chaired the Commission on Scottish Devolution, and was President of the British Medical Association. He was awarded a KCB in 1996. His most recent publication is: “A Doctor’s Line. Poems and Prescriptions in Health and Healing.”

    Paint & Write – with Janie Walker Together we will create a beautiful pastel painting followed by some “artistic writing”

    Janie teaches ‘non believers’ to create Art, writing and spiritual visualisations to increase self-esteem. Janie’s hobbies are also her work so she believes she is very grateful to have been gifted with her talents.

    Journaling and Yoga with Jayne Wilding Journaling and yoga are ways of connecting with our innermost self. Join Jayne Wilding in a workshop which will combine relaxing yoga (done from our chairs) and journaling exercises to help us on the path to knowing ourselves.

    Jayne is a freelance writer and yoga teacher. sky blue notebook from the Pyrenees draws on the experience of living in the foothills of the French Pyrenees for three years. Jayne runs writing and yoga workshops for health and wellbeing in Fife and Dundee.

    Bedtime Stories for Beginners with Stewart Ennis Working with readers and writers in the context of a maximum security prison – In this workshop I will discuss my own personal experiences of working in prison and explore the creative ways in which I’ve learned to deal with the issues of personal sharing and personal protection. I will also look at the ways in which reading and writing can have a positive impact on prisoner’s relationships with one another and with loved ones on the other side of the wall, and how creative writing can nurture empathy and help to creative positive new identities.

    How do I encourage prisoners to open up while actively discouraging the prisoners from writing about the elephant in the room, their crime?

    Stewart is a writer, performer and teacher. He was a founder member of the theatre ensemble Benchtours and has written and performed for many Scottish theatre companies. For the past five years he has been Creative Writing & Performance tutor at HMP Shotts. His first novel The Saving of Joseph Kirkland will be published at the end of 2017.

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    You can also join Lapidus Uk which focuses on writing for wellbeing. There is a Jiscmail email alert group called BIBLIOTHERAPY you can perhaps join – they advertise jobs, research and events.I can add you to my Wee Read list for occasional events and news as well, if you wish.Contact me here if you would like to write a short piece about the work you have done for this Wee Read website.

    Enjoy all your reading and writing for wellbeing!

    Christine     

  • Wee Read is spreading itself about!

    Wee Read is offering free taster sessions to the community groups around Glasgow and Lanarkshire!We will bring stories, poems and activities to suit your needs.Sharing a story is easy with Wee Read, it is an informal blether group with a topic to talk about.Contact us at:christine@weeread.scot or on 07952 982868!

    Reading for wellbeing + writing for self-expression= Happy faces !!

     

     

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    You can really surprise yourself when you try a wee bit of writing- a new world opens up!!

     

    Weeread2ndlot (7 of 30) (640x557)Wee Read is good for everyone- little people and the big ones too.

  • Lanarkshire welcomes the Shore to Shore poetry Tour!

    Am chuffed to be getting free tickets from StAnza for the Shore to Shore poetry tour- at a local Lanarkshire venue, Biggar Municipal Hall.


      ” Picador and Atkinson-Pryce Books present Shore to Shore: Celebrating Poetry and Community with the Laureate and Friends, featuring Carol Ann Duffy, Gillian Clarke, Imtiaz Dharker, Jackie Kay, John Sampson plus special guest poet.”

    The event  is on Friday, the 1st of July at 7.30pm.It should be a really good night, so come along if you can to hear the poets voices, LIVE AND LOUD!

    The poet laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, will be there reading some poems along with other guests. Am so excited to be going to a local Lanarkshire community venue and hear some of my favourite poets.

    There is also a poetry competition about community which we can enter here:

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    And you can get the complimentary ticket offer for the Shore to Shore tour too, –  from StAnza if you subscribe to their e-newsletter details here:

    StAnza are lucky to have some complimentary tickets to the Scottish events and we’ll be offering these on a first-come basis via our e-newsletter. So if you are already signed up for this, watch out for a message coming soon about this. If you are not already signed up but would like to receive our e-newsletters, then it’s very simple, just go to our homepage and type in your email address in the box provided.

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    My connection to community poetry and the Poet Laureate

    A poem Carol Ann Duffy wrote was very important to me. I read it at the very first ‘Reading Aloud’ group I did in 2009 at the Greater Easterhouse Alcohol Awareness Project- for the Women’s Group. It was the week after Carol Ann was made Poet Laureate, and I felt proud that she was the first woman poet laureate for 400 years, and a Scot, born in Glasgow. I read Louis MacNeice’s ‘Snow’ then Carol Ann’s After Louis MacNeice’s Snow, and a group of twelve Easterhouse women and me started talking about what these poems  meant to them.

    It felt miraculous to me, these women, really tearing the words apart, searching for their own personal meaning in them. Creating a community of friendship after alcohol affected them in some hard ways-they found out new things about each other. And I found out that they were wonderful.My report of that first foray into sharing poems in the community is here.

    I am grateful that now I have a miraculous job,- to do community reading with people across Scotland, bringing poetry and making friends.

     

  • Launch of Reading Ahead at Wishaw General Hospital Today!

    Today the new staff reading scheme was launched at Wishaw by the library staff at NHS Lanarkshire, and I was asked to give a short talk, ‘Reading Is Good For You!’, all about the benefits of reading. It was great to chat with people who enjoy reading generally. Readers are often passionate people who are convinced of the benefits – because they feel it and know it themselves.

    So, I was speaking to at least some of the converted, which felt really good!

    I talked about story and how, basically, it’s what we all do all the time.

    I quoted from Joseph Gold’s book ‘ Read For Your Life’ – he says that :

    ‘Story is basic to how human minds see their world and to how those minds work.”
    He then quotes another researcher, Bateson who says :
    “A story is a little knot or complex of that species of connectedness …that we call relevance…”
    Bateson believed that story is organic…that all living beings grow into their own story, which is its history, its very nature- shape-form and function.
    Gold says, that. ‘The idea of connectedness is basic to story…’ Linking up bits of information, we grow stories, we grow knowledge. We weave some bits into our own life story.’ I think that this connectedness with all that is alive is like when Shakespeare says ‘We are such things as dreams are made on’.

    I read out a poem by Maria Venditozzi, who is a poet and a speech and language therapist.

    ‘Spending Time with Stephen’

    He sits cross-legged in his wheelchair

    eyes averted, picks at scars on his arm

    or flicks light through his fingers.

    Locked-in world of personal safety

    from the chaos of external existence.

     

    Senses overwhelm, invoke

    sensory storms, a crash of any control

    he can normally contain.

    Self-mutilation marks this territory,

    feedback at its most ferocious.

     

    Speech is a jumble of sighs and spits.

    He has tried to master more

    but he stumbles on the stumps of words,

    gnaws on sounds that make sense to us.

    His world makes no sense of syllables.

     

    Showing interest in his present moment,

    sharing his sounds and movement –

    our lives touch on his terms.

    Neginnings of positive interaction.

    Tiny steps into his fragile world.

     

    Slowly assuring that what he brings has value,

    that interaction can be pain free.

    Fear leaves his senses for a while,

    creates a space, opportunity for curiosity.

    He breathes softly, safely.

    He smiles. We smile together.

    Maria Venditozzi.

     

    I think this is a touching poem, where the poet enters the mind of the person who cannot speak. It shows how we can edge our way into someone’s story, by sharing movements and sounds that they make- ‘on his terms’.

    Story connects us all. Eye to eye, mind to mind, heart to heart.I encourage everyone to read more and share it!Talk about it in groups, or wherever, as there are more possibilities for benefits in a group discussion.

    I hope the new reading scheme is very successful and look forward to more events with NHS staff.

    I ended with a poem by Elizabeth Bishop, One Art.

    One Art (Extract)
    BY ELIZABETH BISHOP
    The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
    so many things seem filled with the intent
    to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

    Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
    of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
    The art of losing isn’t hard to master…

     

    Poem avaiable here

     

     

  • Wee Read – Winter Reads

    Wee Read has been having a rest and a proper winter’s cold. But best of all, time for a read.My novel at the moment is Diana Gabaldon’s     ‘A Breath of Snow and Ashes’, it is the 6th of her series now on US TV as ‘Outlander’. I love a story set in the past. This one has a wee bit of time travel and some interesting learning about the 1745 rebellion, and Charles Stuart is in the stories.Quite funny at times, as well lots of tragedy!The prologue :

    “Time is a lot of the things people say that God is. There’s the always preexisting, and having no end.  There’s the notion of being all powerful—because nothing can stand against time, can it?  Not mountains, not armies.

    And time is, of course, all-healing.  Give anything enough time, and everything is taken care of: all pain encompassed, all hardship erased, all loss subsumed.

    Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Remember, man, that thou art dust, and unto dust thou shalt return.

    And if Time is anything akin to God, I suppose that Memory must be the Devil.”

    I also enjoy the wee bits of the Gaelic running through these books. Mo chridhe, a leannan,… one day I will study and learn this beautiful mother tongue. Thanks to my pal Eilean for her encouragement to read the books, and for learning the Gaelic and offering to bring me into that process with her!

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    Ofcourse, as I read the stories of others, I also reflect and wonder at my own story- and the power of the stories I believe about myself, which are probably not fixed and lasting.Or true!

    It’s helpful to talk to myself about my stories, and maybe loosen their grip on my whole life. Things indeed do change and two new books I have been given lately will help me do some loosening-

    ‘the art of meditation, the heart’, by Vessantara,  is a simple introduction to developing loving kindness. Looking forward to reading it all, and using it with my friend, Dhanabhadri who has lent me it. We will bring the meditation classes to The Hope Cafe in the New Year.Here’s a bit of the introduction :

    “In this short book we shall learn some methods from the Buddhist tradition that will enable us to explore our own hearts, and to develop more satisfying ways of being. These methods can help us become more loving and compassionate towards others, and kinder and more understanding towards ourselves.” 

    I think the attitude of kindliness towards myself is the most fundamental thing to try and get into a habit of, and also noticing when I am not doing it.

     The next book to help me to loosen-up my views about myself, is Pema Chodron’s  ‘when things fall apart’, heart advice for difficult times. Available here.  She also talks about metta, or maitri- that is translated as loving kindness- and offers support in loving ourselves more.

    “Cultivating that unconditional friendliness toward whatever arises in your mind….Like clouds in a big sky or waves in a vast sea, all our thoughts are given the space to appear…

    If any of these have inspired you to read them as well, that’s great! And also ask what are your stories are to yourself?Listen to your heart and let the secrets come out!

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  • Lapidus Scotland launches a new booklet – Writing Place at the CCA 17th September

    I N V I T A T I O N
    Writing Place Anthology Launch
    with Lesley O’Brien as host

    and Ted Bowman talk on Bibliotherapy:
    Words Work Well: Reading, Writing and Storytelling
    Thursday 17th September 4:30 to 6:30pm
    CCA clubroom 350 Sauchiehall St,
    Glasgow G2 3JD

    Light refreshments included – RSVP lapidus.scotland@yahoo.co.uk

    Lesley O’Brien is a Storyteller, Singer, Family Resource Worker with Glasgow Women’s Aid and former chair of Lapidus Scotland. She is a member of Kittlinclapperdin, blending poetry, stories and song. Writing Place facilitator with Voices of Experience.

    Ted Bowman, poet, editor, grief educator, and bibliotherapist will give a talk followed by questions and discussion. Ted is a community instructor in Family Education at the University of Minnesota and an adjunct professor in Social Work at the University of St. Thomas. He is co- editor of The Wind Blows, The Ice Breaks, a volume of poems by Minnesota poets addressing themes of loss and renewal, and author of two booklets, Loss of Dreams: A Special Kind of Grief and Finding Hope When Dreams Have Shattered.

    Light refreshments included – RSVP lapidus.scotland@

    ALL WELCOME!

    Find out more about Lapidus by downloading the leaflet here. See more on the invitation: Writing Place Launch 17Sept15