Bless this Mess:
Writing About Difficult Relationships
Bless this Mess: Writing About Difficult Relationships
Norbert Krapf and Liza Hyatt
Providence Spirituality & Conference Center, St. Mary-of-the-Woods, IN
March 17, 2017 6:00 p.m.-March 17 4:00 p.m.
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Click for previous workshop responses.
Speaking openly about conflict-filled and wounding relationships is often such a frightening process that we avoid it at all costs. Yet by not articulating the conflict in these relationships, we deny ourselves access to the whole context of our lives and can’t live our present and future fully. Memoir writing and poetry offer us ways to speak truthfully, patiently, and compassionately about these relationships. When we use such forms of writing as a spiritual practice to acknowledge relationship wounds, we cultivate a profound healing. We cannot brave this mining of our lives, however, without guidance and support from others (therapists, pastors, spiritual directors, friends) aware of our writing journey, sensitive to the impact of trauma within personal relationships, and willing to walk alongside us, listening as we find words to speak what was unspeakable.
Indianapolis poets Norbert Krapf and Liza Hyatt have made such personal writing journeys. In Catholic Boy Blues: A Poet’s Journal of Healing, former Indiana Poet Laureate Norbert Krapf, at the age of seventy, speaks about his abuse as a child at the hands of a priest and the lifelong effects it has had on him, his family, and his loved ones. He speaks in four voices, the boy, the man, the priest, and Mr. Blues. In The Mother Poems – A Memoir: The Warrior Queen Novelist and Her Poet Daughter, Liza Hyatt, as she enters her 50’s, untangles her relationship with her mother, a powerful and inspiring figure also emotionally distant, critical, and unwilling to participate in the details of her children’s adult lives. The Mother Poems begins with Hyatt’s earliest memory of her mother and culminates in poems that give voice to the author’s grief after her mother’s death.
As writers who know the difficult terrain that must be traversed while writing such challenging poetic memoirs, Krapf and Hyatt have joined together as presenters. In Bless this Mess, they read from their work, share the story of how they came to write their own healing memoirs, identify the social supports and creative practices which sustained their work, and engage participants in a discussion of emotions and memories evoked by hearing the authors’ poetry and stories. Hyatt, a licensed mental-health counselor and art therapist, will provide information about ways in which creative self-expression is instrumental in the healing of trauma. Both authors will guide participants in experiential writing activities through which participants can begin to write about their own complex relationship wounds and also develop skills to assist others who attempt such a challenging writing journey. During the workshop, participants may begin to write about a difficult relationship in poetry or prose (a letter, description of a memory or episode, character portrait, memoir chapter, free or formal verse, journal reflections, etc.).
Drawing upon perspectives found in depth psychology and creation spirituality, Hyatt and Krapf unite, in a rare gender-balancing collaboration, to address the spiritual wounding that affects all men and women in our culture. While sharing their individual stories – about a boy being wounded by a man he called Father and a girl being wounded by a woman she called Mother – they also enter into dialogue about our shared need to heal, at an archetypal level, the injured Masculine and the rejected Feminine. In grappling with the cost of this imbalance in their own lives, they celebrate each other’s healing and help workshop participants enter more deeply into such important soul-work.
About the Presenters
NORBERT KRAPF is the 2014 winner of the Eugene & Marilyn Glick Indiana Author Award (Regional). A Jasper native, Indianapolis resident, and former Indiana Poet Laureate, he was inspired to start writing poetry in 1971 by the poems of Walt Whitman and the songs of Delta blues great Robert Johnson. As IPL, Norbert, who has worked with photographers Darryl Jones, David Pierini, and Richard Fields, promoted collaborations and the reunion of poetry and song. He released a CD with jazz pianist-composer Monika Herzig, Imagine, and performs poetry and blues with Gordon Bonham, his guitar teacher.
Of Norbert’s twenty-six books, eleven are full-length poetry collections, including the recent Catholic Boy Blues: A Poet’s Journal of Healing, American Dreams, Songs in Sepia and Black and White, Bloodroot: Indiana Poems, and Invisible Presence. He has also published a prose childhood memoir, The Ripest Moments, edited a collection of pioneer German journals and letters from Dubois County, and translated early poems of Rainer Maria Rilke and legends from his ancestral Franconia.
Norbert is emeritus prof. of English at Long Island University where he directed the C.W. Post Poetry Center. He holds the B.A. in English from St. Joseph’s College (IN) and the M.A. and Ph.D. in English from the Univ. of Notre Dame and was Fulbright Professor at the Universities of Freiburg and Erlangen-Nuremberg in Germany. He received the Lucille Medwick Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America, had a poem included in a stained-glass panel at the Indianapolis Airport, and held an Arts Council of Indianapolis Creative Renewal Fellowship to combine poetry and the blues. Garrison Keillor has read his poems on The Writer’s Almanac. See and hear more at www.krapfpoetry.com.
Indianapolis poet LIZA HYATT is the author of the books The Mother Poems – A Memoir: The Warrior Queen and Her Poet Daughter (Chatter House Press, 2014), Under My Skin, (WordTech Editions, 2012) and two chapbooks, Seasons of a Star Planted Garden (Stonework Press, 1999) and Stories Made of World (Finishing Line Press, 2013). She has been published in various regional, national, and international journals and anthologies including most recently Reckless Writing 1 and 2, Red Silk, and Branches Magazine. In 2006, Hyatt received an Individual Artist Project Grant from the Indiana Arts Commission and many of the poems within Under My Skin were created with the help of this funding. Hyatt wrote The Mother Poems during the last 5 years of her mother’s life. The poems in Stories Made of World explore the relationship of the natural world to human spirit.
Liza is an art therapist and licensed mental health counselor (ATR-BC, LMHC) with 24 years experience, specializing in art psychotherapy for those recovering from complex trauma. She worked for 13 years at The Julian Center Counseling Center, facilitating the Domestic Violence Awareness Mosaic project and initiating a community open studio program for the agency. In 2005, she began developing medical art therapy programs for IU Simon Cancer Center’s Complete Life Department, including the Cancer Mosaic Collaborative and the Cheer Guild Art Cart program. In 2013 she completed training as a Certified Clinical Musician and now plays therapeutic harp music at IU Simon Cancer Center.
Liza holds a BA in Liberal Arts from St. John’s College (Santa Fe, NM) and a MA in Expressive Arts Therapy from Antioch University (Ohio). Liza is adjunct professor at both St. Mary-of-the-Woods College and Herron School of Art and Design, teaching the graduate level courses Art Therapy and Spiritual Growth, Clinical Art Therapy 1, and Cultural and Social Diversity in Counseling and Art Therapy. Through her work for St. Mary of the Woods, she chose to enter into relationship with the mission of the Sister’s of Providence by becoming a Providence Associate. She has facilitated classes, workshops, retreats, and therapeutic art programs for numerous organizations including The Writer’s Center of Indiana, Storytelling Arts of Indiana, The Spirit and Place Festival, and Young Audiences of Indiana. She hosts a monthly open mike poetry reading on the east side of Indianapolis at the Lawrence Art Center. She is the author of Art of the Earth: Ancient Art for a Green Future (Authorhouse, 2007) an art-based eco-psychology workbook promoting environmental stewardship. For more information, visit www.lizahyatt.wordpress.com.