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During These Extraordinary Times, Try Poetry as Therapy

March 18, 2020


During These Extraordinary Times, Try Poetry as Therapy


By Alice Jane-Marie Massa


On this extraordinary March 18, 2020–I think of March 18, 1990. Thirty years ago today, I arrived at Leader Dog School for the first time–I arrived at a wonderful, new stage in my life. That March of thirty years ago was the bud that blossomed into a bright and beautiful new world of independence for me. Happily and most gratefully, I am still on that stage with my remarkable fourth Leader Dog, Willow. However, now we all have stepped onto a very different stage of life. On this new, unwanted stage of life, many of us need to turn to moments, minutes, and hours away from all of the news to strengthen our spirits. To where do you turn to calm your soul and stay connected while you practice social distancing?


During these extraordinary times for our nation and the world, how fortunate we writers are to be able to turn to our writing as a form of therapy! If you are not a hobby writer nor a professional writer, you may still want to try spending some of your time by writing a poem–or family history, journal of current events, or other type of prose. While some others may have particular challenges with staying at home, we can be thankful for being able to use some of this time to write for possible

publication, pleasure, and/or therapy. At times of trouble or challenge, I have and still do turn to writing poetry, walking with Willow, and reading. (I would add container gardening to this list, but Mother Nature has not yet given the “gardening go-ahead” to Wisconsinites.)


For now, I want to share with you a poem about poetry as therapy. Last Thursday, I shared the following poem with my small-group critique session which has met monthly for nearly four years; then, on Monday night, I shared the poem with a writers’ list to which I have belonged for almost eight years. IMPORTANT: Please note that despite a couple of lines in this poem, there is, thankfully, absolutely no word about supermarkets closing.


For my next post of the continuing series about my four Leader Dogs, please return to WORDWALK on March 21, Saturday, for a dog post on our 30th anniversary. Thanks, and try a little poetry therapy, such as the following.



To Your Health–Social Distancing


Poem by Alice Jane-Marie Massa




To your Health!

Toast with a cup of herbal tea

Or soothing poetry.


In times of trouble,

We should gather together.

However, now we must practice,

We must perfect

Social distancing

And weather this germ storm

Relatively alone.


In this world where too many

Do too much online,

We must now do more online.

Yet, have you seen the lines

For toilet tissue at the supermarket?

What will happen if the supermarkets close?

Will the National Guard deliver groceries?


When the National Guard knocks at my door,

Hopefully with rolls of toilet paper,

I will be writing poetry

Because, for me,

Poetry is therapy.


When I write poetry,

I lay aside my worry beads:

I focus only on the fancy and frivolity of the poem.

The words massage my tightened muscles.

The rhythm rolls me onto another shore.

The punctuation delights my spirit.

The revision is a tool I love to carve slowly.

The reading and re-reading of the verses embrace my soul.

In a poem, I find home, love, memories, strength–

The strength to awaken to a world

that will be a stranger to me.


Within this new, changed, strange world–

I will social distance–

While I dance with poetry.


* * *


Take good care, be kind, and be well!

Alice and Leader Dog Willow


March 18, 2020, Wednesday




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  1. Sue McKendry permalink

    Good advice!

  2. Dear Alice,
    With the preschool being canceled through at least the end of April, I have found comfort and joy in sending e-mail messages to my little five-year-olds and their parents with suggestions for learning activities to do at home. The day after Friday’s blizzard, I was inspired to build a little snow friend and to send a photograph to the children asking them to think of a name for my creation. I also scooped up a cup of the very wet snow to bring into the house for a science experiment—one cup of snow melted into 1/2 cup of liquid which is now evaporating on my sunny window sill. I have sent the ideas to my grandchildren as well to involve them in some fun activities to do at home in addition to their online work. Thinking of worthwhile educational learning experiences for children usually comes as easily and as quickly to me as your poems come to you, so I will enjoy this style of teaching for my therapy in these challenging times!
    With love and best wishes for many more comforting poems,

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