• Wee Read autumn word

    The word this autumn is:busy.

    I have been to Paris where we saw great art, and felt fellowship with the revolutionaries! So much grandeur and immense buildings that reflected almost how petty humans were thought to be at that time.

    And whilst Monet’s beautiful waterlilies were fabulous to walk around, I find it sad that Monet wanted them to be places of peace and quiet retreat for the workers  Yet hrre they are hoaching with tourists…

    On the 29th of October  two of our directors Christine and Morin, went to the Unite/Mental Health Nurse Association Scottish Conference. Our presentation on how bibliotherapy makes a difference was well received. We all read the W. B. Years poem, The Lake Isle of Inisfree, so calm and beautiful.

    The conference speakers were arranged live on the Facebook page for SMHNA and a link to presentations will be added here soon.

    Thanks to the organisers, they were clear and helpful all the way. And we had a great lunch!

    Our director, Adrian has been awfy busy writing and now publishing his first novel called Scotched, by Ade Johnston

    It is a tale of a Scottish town, with characters that draw you into their dark addicted inner worlds. It also holds much social commentary about the world we are living in now. Stark at times, funny, but most of all, true.

    Keep busy writing all Autumn gold! 

  • World Mental Health Day 2018

    Speak out everybody!

    It is okay to talk!

    For me, creative bibliotherapy is defined by the conversations that happen while meeting in a group.The actual reading, or writing or the content, is almost inconsequential. It’s the connection with one another that counts, and that makes a difference. this is what my thesis said ten years ago, and I still stand by this.

    I used to get into trouble for saying ‘Ye can do bibliotherapy wi’ a bus ticket!’, – because it was not the content that some people think is appropriate- not Tolstoy, not Dickens. And whilst I love both these, and many writers, it is still foremost in my mind that for a person to talk about their deepest feelings, traumas, existential angst- that is the thing! The thing that that can make the difference to our mental wealth or wellbeing, the thing that saves one person from killing themself that day.

    See Me in Scotland is making a call today for action- to start more everyday conversations on our mental health. Talk about your mood, ask how someone is managing with a stressful part of their life. It is ok to talk. Make it easy for your people to talk about their experiences.

     

    Sharing is therapeutic, so this works well when I use a writing prompt or just reading a piece of writing. It makes it easier than having to break the ice with  a difficult topic.

    A quote from Albert Camus,

    ‘Real generosity towards the future lies in giving all to the present.’

    May you have a great conversation today!

  • Autumn falls into view

    Autumn for Wee Read will have some exciting times! Tomorrow we continue at the lovely Maggie’s Centre at The Monklands in Coatbridge with a selection of poems to inspire.

    Wee Read expressive writing group happens between 1pm first Tuesday of each month.Anyone affected by cancer can join just a small group sharing chat and reading some poems together.Whatever you write is right!Contact the lovely Maggie’s staff on  01236 771199.

    Tomorrow I will bring an extract of a Walt Whitman poem, Miracles.He is one of my favourite writers, who inspired me at the age of 12 or so to keep writing the ‘long thin stuff’ (poetry as described by A.L. Kennedy) .

    Extract

    ‘Why, who makes much of a miracle?
    As to me I know of nothing else but miracles,
    Whether I walk the streets of Manhattan,
    Or dart my sight over the roofs of houses toward the sky,
    Or wade with naked feet along the beach just in the edge of the
    water,
    Or stand under trees in the woods, To me every hour of the light and dark is a miracle,

    Every cubic inch of space is a miracle,

    Every square yard of the surface of the earth is spread with the

    same,

    Every foot of the interior swarms with the same.

    To me the sea is a continual miracle,

    The fishes that swim—the rocks—the motion of the waves—the

    ships with men in them,

    What stranger miracles are there?’

    Walt Whitman

    Our Director, Adrian is busy in the background, finishing his first novel so it as an exciting time .

    At the end of this month, I celebrate my birthday and visit Paris for the first time,

    here is another extract which is about Paris:

    See Paris First – Extract

    Suppose that what you fear

    could be trapped,

    and held in Paris.

    Then you would have

    the courage to go

    everywhere in the world.

    All the directions of the compass

    open to you,

    But then danger

    seems too close

    even to those boundaries,

    and you feel

    the timid part of you

    covering the whole globe again.

    You need the kind of friend

    who learns your secret and says,

    ” See Paris first”.

    M. Truman Cooper

     

     

     

    Around the Hallowe’en time of year, I have been invited to give a presentation on Bibliotherapy and its’ applications or usefulness to mental heath nurses and patients, at the  Unite/Mental Health Nurses Association Conference, delivered in partnership with the School of Health and Social Care at Edinburgh Napier University.  So I will be  asking the question is our NHS really worth celebrating after 70 years? And suggesting that bibliotherapy can improve our services in a cheap and effective way!  The venue is Augustine United Church,  41 George IV Bridge Edinburgh EH1 1EL

    It is on the 29th October, aimed at mental health nurses/students and here are details,

    https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/unitemental-health-nurses-association-scottish-conference-2018-the-nhs-at-70-a-happy-birthday-tickets-45890118580

     

    I will also take my co-director, Morin Fenton one of our volunteers for our Wee Read committee.

  • Wee Read needs new members at Maggie’s Lanarkshire!

    If you or someone you know has had cancer or been affected by cancer we would love to see you at our Expressive Writing group in Maggie’s Lanarkshire.

    We are celebrating  a very happy 4th Birthday to Maggie’s in Lanarkshire, beside the Monklands Hospital in Coatbridge this week! I have loved being involved for 3 years, with the expressive writing group. It is a real joy to hear from people who can say or write whatever they feel there. We are looking for new members and anyone affected by cancer is welcome to try it and see!

     

    We are a small informal group, just like the usual style for Maggie’s centres. You can talk or write as much or as little as you like. It’s good to hear other people’s voices and to read some poetry and stories together.

    We meet on the first Tuesday of the month, 1 o’clock to 3 o’clock.

    If you are interested please call anyone at The Maggie’s Lanarkshire on  the phone

    01236 771199

    or email

    lanarkshire@maggiescentres.org

     

    Maggie’s Lanarkshire
    at The Elizabeth Montgomerie Building
    Monklands Hospital, Monkscourt Avenue,
    Airdrie
    North Lanarkshire
    ML6 0JS
  • Summer Wee Read- Willa Cather in Ireland

    Now we are just past the summer solstice, it feels like the heart of the year.Currently, I am busy preparing for Willa Cather’s Irish Connections, – a symposium over in Ireland, about an ancestor of my family name, Willa Cather. ‘My Antonia’ is one of her acclaimed novels, published 100 years ago.It is a beautiful read.

     This novel is considered Cather’s first masterpiece. Cather was praised for bringing the American West to life and making it personally interesting. ” Wikipedia

     

    Willa Cather

    She has a poetic way of expressing herself that I love. And her insight into character is to me, educational.

    “I wanted to walk straight on through the red grass and over the edge of the world, which could not be very far away.” from My Antonia

    One of my favourite Cather novels is the ‘Song of the Lark’, about a young girl who becomes an opera singer, and shows in detail what artists need to go through to become themselves. This relates to all of us.

    “. . . what was any art but an effort to make a sheath, a mould in which to imprison for a moment the shining, elusive element which is life itself—life hurrying past us and running away, too strong to stop, too sweet to lose?”

         

    So I will meet scholars and others at Roe Valley Arts and Cultural Centre in Limavady,- somewhere between Derry and Coleraine next week. A rural location which will provide an adventure Willa would approve of, I am sure!

    Here’s a wee final quote from Willa, it has a nice Irish almost Gaelic sound and rhythm to it begorrah!

    “May the Hay fever give you a long vacation and the hot winds deal gently with you.”   from Letters of Willa Cather, To M. C. Gere 1901

    Have a literary good summer!

     

  • Teach This Poem – Academy of American Poets

     

    The Academy of American Poets

    A great resource for anyone in creative bibliotherapy! I wanted to share their news of an award they just received and just rejoice in their merits, what a great poetry organisation!

    The 2018 Award for Innovations in Reading Prize for Teach This Poem.

    I used this resource not to teach a poem in a school setting, but to discover a new poem and get hints about how best to use it with the group – whichever group I happen to be working with.

    When I select poems to bring to a group, I use a few resources, the main one my own memory.I connect a few poets, themes, and the muse provides something too..

    Imagination brings it home and I have a session usually with 5 or 6 pieces and exercises for people.They will be the planned content for my Wee Read expressive reading and writing sessions, that usually last about one and a half to two hours.But things can often change from the plan. That depends on who is there,- how I feel, or, what I intuit from the feel of the group. It’s not an art that is easily taught. Practising it is the only way to get the hang of it I think.

    Another great source from the Academy of American Poets that really helped me to build up a store of poets and poems I can use is the ‘Poem a Day’. You can sign up for a daily poem sent to your email inbox. Worth it just for a bit of inspiration!  When you are starting to facilitate poetry sessions, you want to have plenty of resources to have at hand. So a daily reading schedule for yourself is a big help, and the daily poems from the Academy can be a great boost as well.

    Just as I was browsing there today, I see a celebration of Walt Whitman’s birthday by Allen Ginsberg  

    A double-dunt as we say in Glasgow.Enjoy reading and browsing this brilliant website, plus it has audio and videos.

     

    Walt Whitman

    One’s-self I sing, a simple separate person,
    Yet utter the word Democratic, the word En-Masse.
    Of physiology from top to toe I sing,
    Not physiognomy alone nor brain alone is worthy for the
    Muse, I say the Form complete is worthier far,
    The Female equally with the Male I sing.
    Of Life immense in passion, pulse, and power,
    Cheerful, for freest action form’d under the laws divine,
    The modern man I sing.

     

     

     

  • Words Work Well for All – Training Day for Facilitators of Therapeutic Writing

    Words Work Well for All

    An Introduction to writing, storytelling, and reading for wellbeing
    With Valerie Gillies & Larry Butler

    Wednesday 11 April 2018, 10am – 4pm

    Here are details for a new event happening for anyone who has experience of leading writing or reading groups with a therapeutic aspect!

    This is a great opportunity to work with Larry Butler, a well kent face in Scotland for his contribution to writing and wellbeing in Scotland. Larry is an American with a great love and appreciation of poetry. Using words for emotional expression can help you to manage your wellbeing and health issues.Larry has worked for many years with Lapidus the UK-wide group focussed on therapeutic writing.He leads writing groups in Maggie’s Gartnavel and is a great trainer.Read more about his publishing work here Playspace Publications

    Take this opportunity if you can!

    Valerie Gillies was an Edinburgh Makar, 2005-08, and has been a published poet and writer for decades.She has a confident and inspiring attitude to leading groups.Her holistic approach is supportive to anyone who leads or participates in therapeutic reading and writing groups.Fantastic chance to be in the company of the best!Read more

    Here’s the details:

                                                                                                                                                                                                              

    Wednesday 11 April 2018, 10am – 4pm
    Scottish Storytelling Centre, 43-45 High Street, Edinburgh EH1 1SR

    Lapidus Scotland offers a full day workshop for storytellers, writers and readers who already work within community and education settings and would like to develop their facilitation skills within health and social care. From listening to reading to writing to sharing together, we will practise the presence of the facilitator, and the vital selection of the text, which story or poem to use.

    Cost £30 Spaces limited. To book your place, please email lapidus.scotland.1@gmail.com If you have any queries, call Philippa Johnston, Creative Project Manager on 01337 842513 / 07939 312829

    See also the website Words Work Well

     

  • Where Do I Come From?

    The questions, ‘ where do you come from?’ or,  ‘what does your father do?’, are useful in prompting your writing. I wrote this today:

    I just started reading ‘Germinal ‘by Emile Zola, inspired by watching a film about artist Cezanne and Zola, who were friends. Germinal is about mining and poverty. It’s written in what Zola called a Naturalistic style, it’s very realistic! I skipped the long introduction, but expect to find out more about Zola’s life and politics as I read on.
    Coming from Blantyre, a mining village in Lanarkshire, reading this has made me remember that my dad and two grandfathers were miners, also my step-Grandad, Wattie who helped to bring me up. I had a massive input from him ; he was a communist.
    The telling of this tale has made me actually go into the mine and scrunch myself into a ball, hunkering down under the walls to chip out some coal.(Imaginatively). It’s fairly harrowing.
    So, from this,
    I wrote a poem today:

    Buried beneath the earth,
    without a breath of fresh air,
    miners coal-tapping.

    Fearing the world will fall
    on their heads… suffocating,
    miners fighting for all.

    Squatting; back-breaking work,
    no other choice for a living.
    Compressed; lung-black; stuck.

    My father and grandfathers sat there
    Enduring. Direst of dire.
    Nae wonder they were dour.

    Their only fire,
    a lamp.
    no dry places, all were damp.

    And, empty of all uplift,-
    but walking out of there,
    believing heaven waits.

    C. Cather

     

    Related image
    Harry Fain, Coal Loader
  • Happy New Year for 2018

    ME N MUM SEPT 17Hope you are loving life as it should be.For the first time I am going away to a retreat for New Year. My mother died recently and she always favoured a Scottish Ne’erday over Christmas.I will read some Burns for her at oor ceilidh.

    I ventured onto the website issuu.com and published a wee introduction to bibliotherapy. I have been asked to talk about it to Napier University staff in January and previously gave this outline also at Napier in October.

    Looking forward to going there, then on Burns birthday I go to the Scottish Parliament as Maggie’s Lanarkshire have been invited to a reception with the health minister and others. Spreading the message of how writing and reading is good for you!

     

    Aye Best,

    Christine

    Wee bit of The Star O’ Rabbie Burns by Robert Thomson

    To sweep the strains o’ Scotia’s lyre
    It needs nae classic lore;
    It’s heart o’ pith and native fire
    That warms the bosom’s core.
    Let kings and courtiers rise and fall,
    This world has many turns,
    But brightly beams, abin them all,
    The star of Robbie Burns.

     

  • Scotland – Exploring Our feelings

    Wee Read took a theme of Scotland to The Maggie’s Lanarkshire this week.

    Christine at The Maggie's

     

    I was stretching myself to bring more prose readings to the group and chose Carol Craig’s book ‘The Tears that made the Clyde’ . This looks at possible influences on the current health behaviours that produce the so-called Scotland Effect and Glasgow Effect. In this book, we heard about some of the history of the  Glasgow shipyard workers :their patter, their humour, their harsh working conditions. We had a lively discussion about all these things bringing in our own memories and family histories.

     

     We then explored the poem ‘Scotland’ by Hugh MacDiarmid.  He is a poet often described as the most influential Scottish poet of the 20th century. And a bit scary to me, because such a large presence is difficult to bring to the the table when ye don’t really know his work that well. However this short poem was accessible and we could all relate to it and express our passionate feelings for our country.  It was a discussion that brought our group together.Great getting to know each other better in this way, safe, confidential, honest talk!Thanks to everyone there.More to come!

    MacDiarmid