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Remembering Martha Ward

Austin, Texas

In Martha's words

"Depression took away my ability to meet the simplest acts for my daily needs. By practicing Poetry as a Tool for Wellness, I discovered the healing words, within me, I’d longed for. After completing the second round of the curriculum, I was invited to train as a facilitator. I said “Yes,” surprising myself.

As I train facilitators, I learn from their diverse voices and deepen my appreciation of poetry’s healing power."

Update as of 10/2022

From Cathey Capers:

Martha Ward became the first Peer Facilitator for The Institute for Poetic Medicine’s Poetry as a Tool for Wellness program. Answering an invitation issued at The Austin Clubhouse in 2015, she led the way for other members of Clubhouse to create intimate poetry circles where they could explore together a path to wellness that offered poetic expression of their feelings and experiences. Several members described her listening and invitational presence as offering them a true place of belonging. The training and curriculum that emerged from these experiences at Austin Clubhouse were deeply informed by Martha, her fellow Peer Facilitators and the members of Clubhouse.

Poet, friend to hundreds, if not thousands, youngest of seven siblings and Facilitator for several ongoing poetry circles beyond Clubhouse, Martha delighted in the deep company of others and offered a hospitality that was unrivaled. When the pandemic struck, Martha pivoted to extend her hospitality via zoom to a worldwide audience seeking to learn the art of peer facilitation utilized in Poetry as a Tool for Wellness. Many will recall her reference to others as “precious person”; the truth of that for her in her sense of respect and regard for each one of us.

Late this summer, Martha penned the following poem, while facing the most severe challenge of her life, an aggressive and incurable cancer. True to her form, it displays the courage, honesty, and generosity that were hallmarks of her life. While riding the wave of this unrelenting illness, she continually bears “witness to who I truly am,” and invites us to ride and walk along with her. Those of us privileged to have been with Martha at any time during her remarkable life journey remain blessed by All that Love that she poured into our world.

If you are among those touched by Martha’s generosity of spirit, or if this poem touches you in a heartfelt way, we welcome your responding within this community that was so important to her.

From Kristin Thompson:

With a heavy heart, I let you know that our dear Martha Ward has passed away. Many of you attended the sessions Martha and I facilitated over the years. She was a dear friend and has enriched my life and many others‘. She believed in the healing power of Poetic Medicine and our program, Poetry as a Tool for Wellness. She will live on in her poems and in all the lives she touched.

Remembering Martha Ward
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