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Hope | Martha Koock Ward

A photo of a woman in water, her head tilted up to the sky, her hair slicked back to her head. There are rocks in the distance. A poem is overlayed on the righthand portion of the photo. The poem, by Martha Koock Ward, is titled "Hope" and reads as follows: "It's a singular gift, Breath, that / inflates the lungs of a "just born". / This, my raucous call repeated through / the years, decades to come, // denoting / my beginning after an ending. // Broken hearted, spent, jobless, fallen / into the dark, powerless, and yet I rise! / HOPE! No other name applies, turning / from days of feeling like I'm a chopped / earthworm, having survived cruelty. // Regenerating the Light of HOPE in // the World, in myself, // beyond / certain expectation / and / doubtless disappointment. // Dictated by my ability, still, to inflate my lungs with the singular gift, Breath."

If a line or phrase resonates with you,

we invite you to use it as a starting point to create your own poem.

We welcome you to share your poem with the IPM community here.

This poem was included in IPM's May 2023 Newsletter.

Access the full Newsletter here.


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.


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