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Poetry as Healing: A Conversation

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August 12, 2015

With  Reggie Marra, MA, IMC, ACC & Joel Kreisberg, DC, CCH, ACC

Interested in Poetry and Healing?

Find out more about our upcoming course Poetry as Healing with resident poet Reggie Marra.

Online course begins October 1st, 2015.

This video offers you the opportunity to write freely.  Please consider sharing your thoughts in the comment box at the end of the blog.


DR. JOEL KREISBERG: Hi. I’m Joel Kreisberg, and I’m here talking with Reggie Marra about the upcoming Poetry as Healing class that we’re offering at Teleosis beginning October 1st. Welcome, Reggie.

REGGIE MARRA: Hey, Joel. It’s good to see you from across the country.

DR. JOEL KREISBERG: It’s nice to see you too on this glorious day. And I understand that you and Lyedie have done a recording about the class already. So I’m wondering whether we could actually just sample a little of the program.

REGGIE MARRA: Sure. It makes sense just to – probably the simplest thing we can do in a short period of time is a quick poem and ask you to respond to the poem. I’ll give some specific instructions and we’ll ask anyone who listens to this recording to respond too. I’ll give you an opportunity to stop and do some writing following the instructions. Does that make sense? Does that work?

DR. JOEL KREISBERG: Sounds good to me. Sounds like you’re going to read a poem and I’m going to listen, and then I’m going to write my response out.

REGGIE MARRA: Yup, that’s it. So just real quickly. The guidelines I’d give in the class – this will be a streamlined version – would be as you listen, listen for anything. Listen for a sound. Listen for an image. Listen for a metaphor. Listen for an entire stanza or line of the poem or listen for the poem as a whole. And as soon as you hear something that resonates with you, that speaks to you, that in some way brings you alive or brings you to a point of reflection, whatever it is, begin writing. You don’t even have to wait until the end of the poem to begin writing. And we’ll give you about two or three minutes to respond, and then we’ll hear what your response is. For those of you who are listening to the recording, I’ll sound a bell at the end of the poem, and I would suggest that you actually pause the recording, give yourself two or three minutes to respond and then begin the recording again and hear us bring this to a close. So with that as an instruction, I’d like to share a poem entitled “Like You.” It’s written by Roque Dalton and was translated from Spanish into English by Jack Hirschman. This is “Like You.”

Like You

Like you I
love love, life, the sweet smell
of things, the sky-blue
landscape of January days.

And my blood boils up
and I laugh through eyes
that have known the buds of tears.

I believe the world is beautiful
and that poetry, like bread, is for everyone.

And that my veins don’t end in me
but in the unanimous blood
of those who struggle for life,
little things,
landscape and bread,
the poetry of everyone.


REGGIE MARRA: So just take two minutes now and we’ll come back.
[Bell sounds]
[Bell sounds again]

REGGIE MARRA: So welcome back. Joel, would you like to share what came up for you in that poem?

DR. JOEL KREISBERG: I would, actually, and – well, it’s interesting. So here we go. I’m just going to read what I wrote. “Struggling for life, for everyone, poetry, bread and love. Landscapes of my soul, lifting, singing, celebrating life and love, celebrating love and poetry. Celebrating. Poetry is the bread for everyone.”

REGGIE MARRA: Yeah. Thank you.


REGGIE MARRA: Great. And I really appreciate your willingness to read that publicly. You had two minutes to do it. It’s not supposed to be a work of art. It may not even be particularly healing in that first iteration, but this is the beginning of a process that will expand, you know, quite significantly and that over a period of eight weeks with some other activities has proven to be extraordinarily healing for the participants. How did that feel for you to actually read what you had just written?

DR. JOEL KREISBERG: Well, it’s interesting. I was going to say – I mean, I enjoyed the poem, you know. For me, it allows me to integrate the poem in a way. It’s not just listening to the poem. It’s like how does the poem move me and what do I do in response?


DR. JOEL KREISBERG: And what I noticed was absent is hearing the other versions of that. So you and I have been in a coaching and healing group now for three years, and we meet every month, and we start each group this way with a poem, and actually, Reggie is our poet and so he reads us a poem. And then we all, will often to be up to ten people, each one of us shares our responses and our reactions. And so what we don’t hear in today’s recording is another response. We just hear one. But hearing a second and a third allows the poem to move us in various ways, and I tell you, the group has been very, very, very healing for me and for many of us. And I think this particular process is one that I look forward to every month.

REGGIE MARRA: Yeah, great. And so – and I would like to just make a deep bow to you because you didn’t apologize or say that you didn’t think it was any good, which we often do after a two-minute writing prompt. And that’s not allowed. You never apologize for what you write. So that’s one of the guidelines we’ll be using. You just allow the writing to speak for itself.


REGGIE MARRA: So, nice job not apologizing.

DR. JOEL KREISBERG: Thank you. I learned from you after many months.

REGGIE MARRA: And then just, again, to invite anyone who’s listening to this or watching the video and listening to it, is to go to the teleosis.org and/or our Facebook page. And if you actually participated in the exercise, and you can still do that when we’re done, you can replay the blog, feel free to write your response to that brief reading of Roque Dalton’s poem, and we’d love to see what came up for you.

DR. JOEL KREISBERG: Great. And you can see other responses too. I’m going to put my response up on the blog and Facebook and we’ll see. It’d be interesting to read other people’s responses. So, looking forward to that. So, please join us. As well, you know the course starts October 1st, and Reggie’s going to be teaching it, and I’m excited about the course. So if you go to www.teleosis.org and go to the page for Poetry as Healing, you can learn more about the course. We’ve already had some enrolments at the early bird rate which goes until September 1st. So I encourage you to – If you want to do some work like this, come and join us.

REGGIE MARRA: Sounds good.


Find out more about our upcoming course Poetry as Healing with resident poet Reggie Marra.

This video offers you the opportunity to write freely.  Please consider sharing your thoughts in the comment box at the end of the blog.

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