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p.d. dancer | Wayne Gilbert

A photo of Wayne Gilbert in a star position on a stool on a stage. Overlayed is a poem by Wayne Gilbert titled "p.d. dancer (with gratitude to sarah, my teacher)". It reads: at first my arms shoulders hips / legs feet creaked / tensed braced for impact / but they knew what was coming / reminded chest belly to breathe / big round sloppy-breaths / clear cleanse myelin sheaths / switch on the inner amp / for brubeck beyonce / michael franti lady-day / warming softening / stretching expanding / each muscle fiber swelling / with blood charged / synced for movement // gradually incrementally / lean bend rotate lean bend rotate / roll slowly up // first in chairs then on our feet / statues coming to life / step-touch step-touch / grape-vine left grape-vine right / step-sliiiide step-sliiiide // we were ready gathered / on one side of the studio to / dance! / all the way across / all the way back / again again again / until i dropped / laughing sweating / on the bench a man / a whole body / again

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 August 2023 Newsletter.

Access the full Newsletter here.


This poem was written by Wayne Gilbert a poet, actor and dancer based in Denver.

After retiring from teaching, he first became an IPM Poetry Partner as the founder and facilitator of Unlocked Poetry, a monthly poetry workshop for men incarcerated in Sterling Correctional Facility, a Colorado maximum-security prison. After 4½ years as the program leader, Wayne turned Unlocked Poetry over to Lighthouse Writers Workshop in March 2019. It continued until the pandemic of 2020. Wayne is still invited to give readings of poems by prisoners in Unlocked Poetry, and to talk about his experience working with poets behind bars. Poets from the group continue to meet on their own.

Wayne created Metaphor Medicine in 2020—poetry workshops to help improve the lives of people with Parkinson's and their care-partners through making and sharing poems in a supportive community. Metaphor Medicine encourages everyone to become a poet, and to search their own experience deeply for life-affirming possibilities beyond the suffering and limitations of chronic illness.

He has collaborated with the Davis Phinney Foundation, an international Parkinson's educational and advocacy group and is helping other facilitators of these poetry groups begin their own workshops.

Diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2005, he has known John Fox and the work of poetry-as-healer for nearly 25 years.


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