Come to my workshop with Reimagine on Tuesday, September 6, 2022 from 5:00-6:30 PM Pacific time! Experience creating poetry that gives words to images and experiences that can be so hard to express. Reading and writing poetry has power to heal and transform our grief. This workshop is a place for writers and non-writers to experience creating and sharing the poetry of our loss in a safe space. In this interactive workshop, we’ll use readings and simple exercises to explore your own grief journey through poetry. We’ll create poems and share them with other participants in a safe, non-judgmental space (optional). No writing experience or poetic talent required.
I was proud to win the Bronze award in a contest sponsored by Bay Area Travel Writers: the Lee Foster Travel Photography Award. It was no small feat since there were well over 100 entries. The 5 judges were all professional travel photographers, including 3 with long, successful track records at National Geographic. Here’s the photo, which I shot at Arches National Park in Utah.
Voices of the Grieving Heart by Mike Bernhardt is a compilation of work that allows a reader to meditate through the words of others during a time that is often the most difficult of our short lives. This is, of course, the grieving process following the death of someone we love. Bernhardt has carefully constructed this book with pieces contributed by other writers and artists, a collaboration that provides a range of touching entries that, in one form or another, readers of all backgrounds can connect with. Broken down into eight sections, Bernhardt gives readers poetic solace with pieces such as Dixie Pines’ heartbreaking ode to suicide in “How So?” to Maggie Jackson’s “My Next Love,” which depicts the defiant desire to love freely against the unrealistic determination to never feel pain again.
I had to set Voices of the Grieving Heart aside for the whole of last week as it touched upon my own grief following the recent loss of a loved one. It was my husband who started to read it out loud to me. Mike Bernhardt gave me a soothing ointment for the soul, and I am grateful for it. The artwork is gorgeous, with several pieces of photography by Cassandra English being the standouts. The sheer volume of contributors is mind-boggling with a headcount of eighty-three. It’s a tribe of individuals coming together as a collective in solidarity and in grief, but also in hope. It is permission to take all the time and space necessary to accept life, moving forward with a chunk of your heart missing, but also a bit of hand-holding so you know that when you are ready, there are others willing to listen. This is a beautiful anthology of work and I imagine many will find solace in its beautiful effort to help heal.
I first met Britta in the late 1990s, when she was only eight. Her father had died the year before. Her mother, Veronika, had been friends with my wife Yvonne since they’d met in Munich when Yvonne worked there in the mid-1980s. But it was my first time in Germany, and also the first time for our infant son, whom Britta loved to entertain.
Britta’s face looked unmistakably German: round and pretty with rosy cheeks, curly blond hair, and–despite her loss–joyous, blue eyes. Britta spoke virtually no English but she took pleasure with her older brother, Johannes, in teaching me a few words of German—most notably lecker, which means “yummy.” The two kids laughed deliriously whenever I said it. I’m still not sure if they laughed out of delight in having taught me the word or because of the way I said it. …
On September 12, I was honored to present a talk about Voices of the Grieving Heart at a monthly Author’s Corner event for the National Association for Poetry Therapy. The audience was primarily mental health professionals who use poetry to support their clients. We talked about grief, what people who are grieving need, and how reading—and writing—poems about our grief can be a mirror in which we can see ourselves with more understanding and compassion.
I read eight poems from Voices, and I led a writing exercise that participants found helpful. This edited video is about 38 minutes long.