How Poetry Saved My Life

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How Poetry Saved My Life

In 2002, when I received my unfathomable diagnosis of Stage IV cancer with a prognosis of two months to live, I luckily found a salvation. I had always painted or drawn, but at that point for some reason, I could not go in my studio and I needed somewhere to put my feelings.

I called the Cancer Center in Santa Barbara and asked for suggestions. They directed me to a poetry class sponsored by hospice, taught by a well-known poet in SB named Perie Longo. Everyone in the class (maybe eight of us) had some sort of a similar diagnosis and we were all there pouring our hearts out. Unfortunately, Perie too had recently lost her husband to cancer, so she was very much in tune with us as well as being a very encouraging and empathetic teacher. This is where my first book, I Can Do This: Living with Cancer, came from. She made you feel as though you were a natural born poet and everything you wrote was brilliant! That’s what a good teacher does, right? She has since become a good friend and I hope will always remain so. Thanks to that class, my other two books soon followed; Nana, What’s Cancer and now Aging In High Heels

There were many different ways she would have us write poems in class. One was to ask us questions and then to answer in poem form. Another way was to read a poem to us and have us “write off of it.” In other words, whatever would stick in our mind about the poem or whatever we were left with, we should try to write about it. That was my favorite thing to do. I was amazed how someone else’s idea could spark such a flow of words in me. I still love to “write off of poems” and when I just read a book by Jewel (songwriter, poet) called Never Broken, her first poem in the book shook me right down to the core and I immediately had to write my own. Here is a portion of hers and then mine below it.

Writing is a salvation. Try it!

My New Shape (excerpt from Never Broken)

It took me

40 years

but I’m here


it has been


and you can bet

I’m not giving it up

for anyone

no more submissive posture

no more tentative shape

no more body

bent like a question mark

I know what’s best for me

above all others


I reserve the sacred right

to redefine myself at will

I can stand in my own power

and not make myself small

for anyone

to make them feel safe

I will shrink myself

no longer

to make any human feel



Different Beat

If no one hears me,

it’s because I’m not speaking up

it’s not that they aren’t listening.

If they don’t understand,

it’s because they don’t have the same frame of reference

not because they are stupid.

If they don’t march to my drummer,

it’s not because they have no rhythm,

it’s because they have their own beat.

If they prefer to live in their darkness

it’s because the brightness blinds them to their goals

And in the half light they are able to say

I couldn’t do it

because I couldn’t see my way.

-Beverlye Hyman Fead


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well it is an interesting truth about mind that when their is a therapy for it really helps us becoming stronger in our physical bodies and stronger to fight cancer. MIND THERAPY IS SALVATION FROM ALL TYPES OF LIFE'S DANGER. GOD IS REALLY WONDERFUL!

Feb 02, 2017 - 8:59 AM by reynaldo b

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