Finding Voice Poetry Workshop
Facilitator: Annie Holden
The Finding Voice Poetry workshop began at the Men’s Shelter at 2100 Lakeside in Cleveland, Ohio in May of 2009. Originally slated to be a “one-off” event it evolved into a permanent program when one of the participants asked it would be continued the following week. Facilitator Annie Holden and two colleagues, local assistants to John Fox, without hesitation spontaneously agreed it must be established long term. So the initial funding via a grant from IPM, eventually led to its flourishing into a life of its own.
Annie explains: “Our formula is simple but the results are immeasurable. Each week we present a selection of ‘starter‘ poems by anyone from Etheridge Knight to Wanda Coleman to Robert Frost. We read, we discuss, we write on our own. Then the process repeats—we read our own, we admire, we celebrate. This all takes place at a long conference table in the ‘library’ at the shelter with bowls of candy, nuts, fruit, and plates of cookies circulating all the while. Each week for 11 years this has been our routine and our respite. We’ve learned to deeply listen to each other through joy, pain, often laughter and even aggravation. Poetry takes us to the center of things and each other.”