HAIKU POETRY FOR EXPRESSION
© 2002 E. Hitchcock Scott, PhD, LPCC917, ATR-BC
Blending the Japanese tradition of poetry writing with western psychotherapy, this experiential is designed to honor the cycles, stages and experiences of life. Haiku poetry is a very simple and non-threatening form of contemplation. In Haiku poetry there is usually a reference to the seasons of nature in relationship to human experience.
Freud (in Morrison, 1987) credited poets with discovering the unconscious before he did. Freud described poets as, “…those few to whom it’s given. . . to salvage from the whirlpool of their emotions the deepest truths to which we others have to force our way, ceaselessly groping among torturing uncertainties” (p. 24).
Carl Jung referred to creative experiential therapies “imaginative action,” (writing, movement, and visual art) as having a powerful healing impact upon clients. This author refers to the process as, “active meditation”.
One of the most useful aspects of poetry therapy is “cathartic release”. When a workshop participant or client finds the right symbol or word(s) to describe his or her inner world they experience relief.
Please remember this exercise about process and NOT good poetry. In fact, I ask people to be sure to write ugly poetry so that I know they have been authentic. While this directive, to write ugly poetry, may sound trivial – it helps unblock and free creativity.
For those with addiction or family members of those with addiction, writing poetry is a safe form of meditation and expression. Writing poetry is able to help organize, prioritize and even lay to rest our list of worries. Often the writing process helps reveal subconscious thoughts and feelings. It is important for subconscious thoughts and feelings to be revealed in order for them to be identified, addressed and healed.
Before writing poetry, I asked clients or workshop participants to start with an event and write about it in a stream of consciousness fashion.
Here is a brief excerpt from one adult man’s writing flow about his now sober alcoholic father…. from a time during childhood, “I realized he had been drinking pretty heavy because he took a handful of breath mints and started to chew them up. I figured he would be fine to drive because of all of the other times I had seen him drive before. When we pulled out of the driveway, it was a sketchy pull out, then when we got going we ended up hitting the car in front of us”. After the minor wreck and even after realizing that everyone was unharmed he still felt, “….my blood starting to run faster and it was so embarrassing and kind of scary at the same time”. The author, young at the time, worried along with his father that the other people would call the police.
Loud waves while driving
CRASH, conversation now worries
Short breaths, I take
Crisp feel to the breeze
Fear passes embarrassment
Prayer follows all
It is easy to dismiss a forgotten memory from the long ago past as unimportant. Yet, unprocessed memories live in us and shape our relationships with each other and the world. Often our adult lives become the report card that grades the quality of our youth.
Replicating our childhood in our adult life script is referred to as re-enactment. Isn’t it better to write out these experiences in poetry and paint them out in art than to see these destructive dynamics played out over and over?
The processes of professionally directed poetry and art are able to give you insight and points of choice for healing and transformation.
Morrison, R. (1987). Poetry as therapy. New York: Human Sciences Press,
Scott, E. H. & Ross, C. (2006). Integrating the creative arts into trauma and addiction treatment: Eight essential processes. In Psychological Trauma and Addiction Recovery. New York: Haworth Press.