The Whole Enchilada: Jacinta White’s Two Months of Begin Again Workshops

Share

To say Jacinta White ran with the idea of “Begin Again” is the understatement of One City One Prompt. As you can see from this report, the visionary Jacinta brought Begin Again and OCOP to ten partnering organization and over 200 people in the last two months.

One City, One Prompt Triad NC (Greensboro, Winston-­‐Salem, Kernersville)

Dates: March 1 – April 30, 2014

Organizer: Jacinta V. White, The Word Project, jacinta.white@poetryheals.com

Total # of partnering organizations: 10 (Healing Ground, Leadership Winston-Salem, NC Writers’ Network, Northern Guilford High School, Parkway United Church of Christ, Sacred Garden Bookstore, Tiny Writing Group, Winston-Salem Writers, Women Writers’ of the Triad, Writers Group of the Triad)

Total # of workshops/sessions: 10 + Concluding community celebration Total # of participants: approximately 200

Media Coverage:

Winston-Salem Journal, 3/9/14: Click here.

Winston-Salem Chronicle, 3/6/14: Click here.

O. Henry Magazine, 3/14: Click here.

Yes! Weekly, 2/19/14: Click here.

What Participants Are Saying:

“In our community we now talk about Jacinta’s magic bowl of interesting words which inspire, nudge, and surprise. Our experience with One City, One Prompt created a richer sense of community for us. The prompts will continue to prompt other writing, reflection, and soul work.” – Rev. Craig Schaub, Parkway United Church of Christ, Winston-Salem, NC

Blog: Click here.

“It was refreshing to interact with people who enjoy and truly understand the power of words!! There are so many stories inside of people and you will never know the impact your story might have on someone unless you share it!!!”

One City, One Prompt Triad Sample Participants’ Writings

for additional poems: click here, and  for photos, visit here.

The Word Project March – April 2014

Jacinta, thank you so much for everything! You truly have a gift for facilitating engaging discussion and bringing out the best in others. Thank you too for creating a safe space for us to share our thoughts and feelings. That comfort and trust is vital in these types of workshops. All my best, Carla

The notebook was tucked into her desk drawer, underneath some papers and a checkbook. Being the curious person that I am, I pulled it out and started thumbing through its pages. The first few held nothing interesting—doodles, a shopping list, a couple of addresses written down on the fly. But once I got through those ordinary scrawlings, I found something that made me see my mother in an entirely different way.

There were poems—nothing particularly literary, but not bad, either. Written in her deliberate, neat handwriting, the poems conveyed a sense of loss, and feelings that I never could have guessed my mother felt.

I knew she’d experienced plenty of loss by that point. Her mother had died, she’d lost a baby late in pregnancy. But those feelings were rarely expressed openly in front of me. I’d seen her cry at the funerals, but not once since. Now here, in this notebook hidden in a drawer, they were right in my face; raw, real, and so unlike the person I knew.

My mother was devoted to our family. She worked—sometimes two jobs—and still managed to take my sister and I to school, pick us up in the afternoons, and make sure we had hot meals in the evening and clean clothes to wear. Her time was at a premium, and she often chose to spend what little free moments she had with us.

I wondered when she could’ve had time to write this. Did she stay up late at night? Was she writing in the car while waiting for us to get out of school? I’d never once remembered seeing her putting pen to paper to do anything other than write checks, birthday cards or shopping lists.

As I spent more time helping my father sort through the house, I found other writing. A bit of prose written, but never finished. Another poem, apparently to be entered in a writing contest. The pieces were all in different places in the house—in a legal pad tucked into the pocket of her recliner, on a scrap of paper in her purse, and in various notebooks hidden in drawers.

I felt as though I was getting to know my mother all over again. I’d suddenly discovered this creative side of her that was there all the time—I just didn’t know it. Even when I wrote for school, and began to receive recognition for my writing as a student, she never once let on that she, too, enjoyed the craft. I wondered if she was scared, or self-­‐conscious. She’d been so self-­‐conscious about other things—her weight, our family’s lack of money—I wondered if she felt that same sense of self-­‐doubt about this.

I never mentioned what I’d found to my father or sister. I knew that she would be embarrassed that her secret was out, but I also felt that if anyone were to find it, she’d probably hope that person was me, because I would understand that creative urge.

As I’ve aged and found my place as a writer, I sometimes think that her creative spirit flows through me, and that this undeniable desire to express myself on paper is something I directly inherited from her. Like her, I tend to hang back and let others do the talking and stand in the spotlight. And even when I do receive recognition for what I do, it embarrasses me, just as I’m sure it would her to know someone was reading her words. — Jennifer Bringle

Begin Again

I remember a lightness
a feeling in my heart so full I thought it would burst into a million little pieces
As I drove farther and farther away, everything slipped away
This was the beginning
The start of a life I would leave behind
The birth of something new
Behind the wheel my heart swelled, airy and soft like a
balloon, leading me
I floated…
But there was also a heaviness, a weight at the root of my
stomach, heavy and rich like a mound of fresh earth, a weight
that I did not know then would eventually dissolve
With time…
With grace…
With strength…
With a fire inside me that would propel me forward
Out of this abyss
Into a place I did not know, but trusted in my heart I had to go
To begin again, you have to leave something behind
That night I surrendered everything I thought I was
Wife
Friend
Soul mate
Roles I shed, layer by layer
I left it all in my wake
On that summer night on the 30th of June, in the darkness and stillness of my car, I was breaking open.

-­‐ Carla Kucinski

He was Atlas bearing the world on his shoulders, his knees buckling from the weight. But he had to save the world. He had to let the world live or he would die from the weight of his failure. Too many
depended on him for him to stop.

He was Atlas and he wasn’t, had been Atlas for so long that he had forgotten that Atlas wasn’t his name.
He was wearing the name of someone he didn’t know.
He also wasn’t Jesus, though he acted like it, willing to sacrifice his life so they could breathe.

Silly he knew. Foolish it was. The past was a monster he couldn’t figure out how to kill. Guilt was a ghost that haunted
him in the sleep he never got. Nas said sleep was the cousin of death but who was death’s father. The sun told him he shouldn’t feel so responsible, that he wasn’t so responsible for them that he was irresponsible to

himself. This is your life. Let go, the sun said, so you can fly. The world will be fine. So he did and he flew high enough to kiss his own sky.

-­‐ Michael Hewlett

Always Go Down Swinging

With the tenacity of a boxer clinging to consciousness
I hold onto life
with both hands

strangling it until it breathes no more

Letting go only to regrip.
Reposition.
Never to resign.
Each ending becoming a realization that the fight cannot be won.

-­‐ David Ratcliffe

Begin Again

“Make a new plan, Stan.”

Refocus, reflect, re-imagine, redefine priorities,

View with unclouded eyes, hear with unclogged ears.

Establish a new routine.

Restart the engine. Reboot.

“Create in me a clean heart, O God,

And renew a right spirit within me.”

The time has come to adapt,

To renovate, revamp, remodel,

Rehab, redevelop, restore,

To decide what to keep and what to throw away,

To be transformed.

“And behold! All things are made new.”

Or to step out, shed restrictions,

Escape the bonds, break free,

Pull up stakes, reverse course,

Re-orient, re-route,

Find a new direction, take another path.

“And immediately they left their nets and followed him.”

Broken apart and reconstructed,

May we find new life—healed, reborn,

Resuscitated, regenerated, revitalized,

Now as the darkest days have passed

And our hemisphere tilts toward the light,

Remembering that “all shall be well,

And all manner of thing shall be well.”

– Grace Ellis

(Quotations from Paul Simon, Psalm 51: 10, 2 Corinthians 5: 17, Matthew 4: 20-22, Julian of Norwich)

Immersion

Still-­‐life in the mirror,
I hold onto life
with tenderness of a raindrop.

Water drips from my cheek and chin as fingers grasp for an echo dreamed away.

Letting go of yesterday’s losses, stubble circles the drain making way for a new gush

to rinse all bruises
that will fade under sunrise, tightening shadows,

and re-­‐managing their imperfect dimensions.

-­‐ Sam Barbee

A red faced baby was crying in a crowded restaurant. Of course the baby’s parents were mortified. The Dad and then the Mom madly searched for the pacifier in the diaper bag. “Where is that thing?!” they said over and over. Then “Ahhh. . . here it is!” and then, wiped off quickly, it was popped

into the open mouth of the baby. Quiet. All hearts beat a bit differently as the crying turned to the slow, slurpy movement of a pacifier in the tiny mouth of one so small-­‐-­‐of one with such urgent needs. Beginning again can happen-­‐-­‐when we are out of sorts-­‐-­‐even crying-­‐-­‐desolate-­‐-­‐in need. We can allow someone to provide us a pacifier-­‐-­‐maybe a kind word or a covered dish or a real card coming in the mail. And this pacifier, openly received, can

calm our flushed face and turn our crying into calmness. We can begin again with the help of another.

-­‐ Ruth D. Anderson, PhD

watch-­‐ful

Time…a relentless enemy,
it seems to me,
reminding me, challenging me, to start anew

to relish and use each second, aware that once it’s past,
it never comes again…

reminding me, challenging me, to dare to risk
a new beginning even
as life’s clock

ticks away the minutes days

weeks

years of my life… and even

a Cartier watch
cannot hold back its passage.

-­‐ Linda Faltin

letting go?

How I cling to the branch, longing to grasp it tightly, to never, ever let go.
The fall is fearsome. Where will I land?

In a welcoming, gently-­‐absorbing puddle or splat on the sidewalk,
breaking me into irretrievable pieces? Can taking such a risk

really be a new beginning-­‐ or will it simply mark the end of all that is, obliterating what will be in the fool-­‐hardy release of the familiar?

I don’t know… I wonder…

which gives me hope. -­‐ Linda Faltin

Beginnings

The tenderness of the raindrop clinging to a leaf.

The joyful white lace of the bride’s gown.

The joy, the laughter, the champagne, the toasts, the dancing the exchange of vows.

The tenderness of the raindrop clinging to a leaf.

The courage to know and the hopeful trust that we all are children of God— no more – no less.

-­‐ Barbara Provost

A New Day

Listen to the Silence, Let it Be.

Look, at the Sliver of golden yellow, As it Moves,

Across the deep dark sky.

Absorb it.
Feel the feathering breeze.

As it flows over,

So gently.
Oh! The birds are awakening

Chattering as they dart about. Breathe.
Breathe in the fresh cool air. Answer the crones.

Smile at the woodpecker’s hammering Relax in the dove’s comforting coo. Breathe in the first light.
It’s a new day.

Enjoy it.
-­‐ Geraldine Garrison

Each time the outcome has been nothing less Than happiness beyond all measure…oh yes!

But this time there was darkness and nothing to say A light had gone out on this saddest of days.

The void was so big and so terribly wide, I could honestly say I felt empty inside.

We expected to share our life with a child But that wasn’t to be for quite a long while.

I wished most of all that it did not take place. In my mind I forgot all the dreams -­‐ not a trace.

How could we continue…go on and live like before? Our hearts were so closed…we just shut the door.

The reasons were many to wallow and cry in despair
Yet we looked towards the heavens for guidance and care.

We saw we were blessed in so many ways
And our hurt slowly subsided with the passing of days.

So then I reflected and heard a voice deep within
Giving me strength and such hope to simply… begin again.

-­‐ Debi L.

Beginning again isn’t easy
even if you’re leaving behind those who are sleazy.
The memories attached to the people you met,
to even the places you’ll never forget.
These things will stay in my mind forever,
haunting me until I cannot remember.
There are still those I think of before slumber
who have “forgotten” about my programmed cell number. But I can’t sulk about their lack of attention,
they have their own lives outside my dimension.
So I shall carry on with my new life,
now with the burden of memory strife.

Haiku

Beginning again
a continuous cycle it will never end.

-­‐ Justin S.
Northern Guilford High School

With the light shining down onto me
I feel the warmth
of enlightenment With that, I

come to a realization
A realization of the
world around me
I have become self aware The chilling breeze flowing over my body

Now I am refreshed
I look out to the
horizon hearing the
subtle happy tune of a song bird that gives me optimism for the future

Haiku

I open my eyes
and watch the birth of a child

only to see me

-­‐ Seth C.
Northern Guilford High School

With the tenderness of a raindrop and most certainly with my luck
I walked across the street one day and get hit by a passing truck

Now I am in a wheelchair
because I broke my leg
The end of my poem doesn’t rhyme I really like Bojangles

Haiku

Haikus are awesome
but sometimes they don’t make sense refrigerator

-­‐ Eli G.
Northern Guilford High School

Life, like the sea is ever changing The tide comes and it goes Waves rise

and they fall Never the same Never a new

Haiku

As the sun will rise
The darkness fades away A new day will dawn

(no name)
Northern Guilford High School

This entry was posted in Health, Poetry, Social Change and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *