Tuesday, December 3, 2013


Stories save us.
Poetry sustains us.

Poets sharing their stories-- stories of survival, stories of resilience-- creates a larger collective poem, a magnificent treatise on keeping on, a memorial monument to the human spirit.

From the moment I heard about the film  The Poetry of Resilience I knew it was important. I knew I wanted to see it.

I began searching for local screenings.  I searched Google and  Amazon for the DVD.
For several years now, I have periodically checked and rechecked  access and availability of the film--all to no avail.

Each search ended in a dead end-- back at my starting place- the original website for the film and trailer.

I was thrilled to discover that The Film Festival at NCTE 2013 was showing  The Poetry of Resilience.

I promptly included this in my schedule of sessions I wanted to attend. And true to my expectations, this was a  highlight of the convention for me.

The homepage for The Poetry of Resilience  includes everything to spark your interest and initiate your own quest.

You may also find more information about the film on The Poetry of Resilience Facebook Page.

Katja Esson has created a masterpiece.

In the context of a gathering of 27 poets who have come together to share their stories,  political atrocities, and survival, she features the tales of six of these international poets.

Each poet has a personal and unique story of survival-- spanning Hiroshima, the Holocaust, China's Cultural Revolution, the Kurdish Genocide in Iraq, The Genocide in Rwanda  to The Iranian Revolution.

We journey back with these poets to their homelands, to their pasts, through their memories and memorial sites . They allow Place-sacred, sentimental, and horrible-- to tell their stories.

We also hear their stories as they read their poems and narrate their stories of leaving their homelands and living in exile.

How did they survive?  What gave them faith and purpose and hope?

Collectively their stories rise, demonstrating the power of poetry, while giving voice and face to resilience.

Click below to watch the trailer.

To read more about each of the poets featured and to sample their poetry Click the Poet Page for the film. Clicking on each poet's name on the Poet's Page will take you to their websites and below each biographical sketch you will find poetry selections.

You may also click below for additional information and poems:

Li-Young Lee- China, Indonesia--US
Lillian Boraks-Nemetz- Poland--Canada
Alexandre Kimenyi-Rwanda-- US
Choman Hardi-Kurdistan- England

 As I sat in a darkened room with other NCTE attendees, transported to the sites of human horror and atrocity, to the birthplaces of new spirits, and back to lives of hope, I couldn't help but remember the work of Victor Frankl.

In  Man's Search for Meaning he recounts his experiences in Auschwitz and other Nazi prison camps.  Out of his experiences and his observations of  the lives of others, he constructs his theory of logotherapy.  His approach to psychotherapy stresses man's ability and freedom to transcend suffering and find meaning in his life no matter what the circumstances, despite his conditions, against all negative odds.

The poetry of resilience.

Stories continue to save us.
Poetry continues to sustain us.

As we tell our own stories, we collectively survive and create hope  in our world.

Sharing our memories, experiences, and struggles transcends culture, color, country, language... and age.

Young folks participating in Street- Level Youth Media explored issues of abuse, disabilities, and other struggles in their lives through music and poetry.  Their stories do not span the world as in the film described above, but are just as powerful  in the collective energy and poetic hope they offer.

Click here to read more about the Street-Level Youth Media  project and view their videos.

The potential of story.
The power of poetry.
The poetry of resilience.

Today's Deeper Writing Possibilities

What have you survived?

It may be a small hurt, a struggle that might not have been noticed or acknowledged by others.
Or it may have been a much more monumental experience-- sickness,disability, abuse, war, or other tragedies or atrocities.

How did you survive?  How do you endure? What sustains you in your pain? What walks you through to the other side?
How do you revisit the experience?  How do you come home again?

Write a poem to define, contain, and transcend your pain and experience--  a poem that documents your resilience.

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