As part of our celebration of Creativity and Wellbeing Week in May 2021, CUH Arts teamed up with creative writing specialist Ruth Cocksedge from local charity Arts and Minds to facilitate an hour-long creative writing for wellbeing workshop. This was attended by ten staff members from CUH, Ely Day Surgery, and Medirest.
The workshop involved listening and sharing responses to the poem ‘Emerging’ by Pablo Neruda (1904-1973) which can be seen below. The poem contains both dark and light imagery, giving us lots to talk about and reflect on as we emerge from a heavy phase of the pandemic and consider what may come next.
A man says yes without knowing
How to decide even what the question is,
And is caught up, and then is carried along
And never again escapes from his own cocoon;
And that’s how we are, forever falling
Into the deep well of other beings;
And one thread wraps itself around our necks,
Another entwines a foot, and then it is impossible,
Impossible to move except in the well –
Nobody can rescue us from other people.
It seems as if we don’t know how to speak;
It seems as if there are words which escape,
Which are missing, which have gone away and left us
To ourselves, tangled up in snares and threads.
And all at once, that’s it; we no longer know
What it’s all about, but we are deep inside it,
And now we will never see with the same eyes
As once we did when we were children playing.
Now these eyes are closed to us,
Now our hands emerge from different arms.
And therefore when you sleep, you are alone in your dreaming,
And running freely through the corridors
Of one dream only, which belongs to you.
Oh never let them come to steal our dreams,
Never let them entwine us in our bed.
Let us hold on to the shadows
To see if, from our own obscurity,
We emerge and grope along the walls,
Lie in wait for the light, to capture it,
Till, once and for all time,
It becomes our own, the sun of every day.
– By Pablo Neruda, (1904-1973)
The group then had 10 minutes to write independently in whichever form they wanted, whether by jotting down words or phrases, free-form expressive writing, poetry, thoughts stimulated by the poem or their own experiences. The workshop concluded by inviting participants to share their experience of the writing process with the group and excerpts of what they created if they wished to.
Though it was a short session and participants didn’t know each other we were struck by the support atmosphere of the group and people’s willingness to share and respond to others writing. We had some fantastic feedback from participants following the session and will be hosting a four-part creative writing for wellbeing workshop series later this Summer.
“I enjoyed the sense of togetherness and positivity that came from hearing other people’s work” (Creative Breaks participant feedback)
Thanks to all who took part in this event, particularly those who shared what they have written with us.
“I would wholeheartedly recommend it!” (Creative Breaks participant feedback)
Participants have given us permission to share their writing, which we are proud to do!
Here is Vicky DeMonteverde-Robb’s response to Neruda’s poem, followed by her own poem from the session.
Written response to the Emerging poem:
In the darkness
No one lies in wait to reach the end
Of this tunnel we call life
One hopes and grabs for every single ray of light
That filters through the cracks,
That shines through every gaps and holes
Always looking ahead, ever changing
And moving forward
Thinking out loud – my experience
The pandemic showed how much
I got caught up in the daily grind,
The things I took for granted;
I felt such sense of loss and pain, yet gained
A better understanding of things I value most
Being forced to stop
Gave me the freedom to take stock,
Breathe and reflect … even dream.
We are emerging.
Different selves from before.
At times older, bitter and sad
Perhaps more embracing of solitude
And what it offers;
Perhaps more content with less.
– By Vicky DeMonteverde-Robb, Senior Improvement and Transformation Officer
This next poem was written by Costantino Petrelli, eHospital Application Analyst.
Desiring the unattainable
Is an evolutionary need.
The silence on the roads,
Our pixeled loved ones,
Trapped in ourselves we spoke to the silence.
Touch, smells and sounds won’t be people anymore,
But words and pictures overlapping on a screen.
The enemy is invisible yet its presence is colossal,
The price of life is to be paid in health
Or in loneliness.
Relying on human tech,
Forgetting human touch.
Entwined one to another,
Eager to feel,
Scared of each other,
And desperate to be accepted.
We are made of differences,
That we will hate.
Challenge the world in evolution,
Raise above your sight,
Our meaning hides in the dirtiest corners,
In the smell of the market,
In the strength of a handshake,
In every little folds
That makes a scruffy appearance.
Desiring the unattainable
Is an involutionary need.
– By Costantino Petrelli, eHospital Application Analyst
The final piece shared with us form the session is a piece of expressive writing from Sylwia Tichanow.
What does it mean to be free? Are we ever really free? Are we ever allowed to be ourselves? Think what we want to think? Feel what we want to feel? Or are we a product of society? Design to conform, to agree, to follow rules. Without thinking, without questioning, without challenging. Just say “yes”. Because what’s good for others is obviously good for you. Isn’t it?
But we are all our own being. Our bodies might be made from the same particles, but our souls and minds are unique. We don’t feel what others feel, we don’t think what others think. We weren’t made in a factory. We were created by the Universe. Children of this planet. We were made to be free. Like birds. Like ocean. Like wind. Wild and free.
To live without fear to be judged. To live without fear to be hurt. To live without fear to dream. To live without fear to love. To live without fear to be alive.
– By Sylwia Tichanow, Clinical Education Facilitator