Mildred Andrews is an award-winning author, specializing in Northwest social history. Her most recent book, Pioneer Square: Seattle's Oldest Neighborhood, was published by University of Washington Press in 2005. Mildred was born in Seattle, grew up in eastern Washington, and earned a doctorate from the University of Washington. She was happily married to George Andrews for almost forty years, until his death in June 2006. One of the consequences for Mildred was months of writer's block. She had never composed poetry until this fall. She says: "Esther Helfgott's Poeming the Silence class has helped me find a voice to express my feelings and also to resume my historical writing."
Thanks ever so much for helping me begin to poem the silence. Your class has been a highlight of each week with inspiration to pick up a pen. - Mildred, Fall 2006
Alma Maria Rolfs
Alma is a psychotherapist, teacher, and poet. She loves words and enjoys using them for work and pleasure. She wrote poetry as a kid, then stopped for 25 years, until chunks of her journals suddenly insisted upon becoming poems, and she's been writing ever since. In her clinical work and as a trained poetry therapist she's used poetry and creative writing to help people release, discover, transform, and grow. Her own writing has been mirror, container, permission-giver, a friendwith whom she can explore, mourn, and celebrate. She joined Poeming the Silence to support and enhance her writing self.
For our first class exercise I asked everyone to look in a mirror and write for ten minutes. Here is what Alma wrote:
In the Mirror, Seeking Myself
The white hair still a surprise
and the eyes wanting to fill, the reconstructed chin, those deep unexpected lines.
I defocus, see double, note
how I float off to one side of myself. That other, what does she see? Whom does she see, as I see her?
I move, shift the light, and still
I stay unfocused, my face overlapping itself.
It is hard to smile, to look in, deep,
to speak in silence to myself:
whatever is in there is ok, is good.
How seductive it is to float off,
not quite there,not quite me,
off center, diffuse,
©Alma Maria Rolfs
Carolyn has performed in seven plays in the last year. She starred in A Curious Savage as Mrs. Savage at the UPAC Theatre in August. She was Gladys Seagelman in the fall 2005 mainstage production of The Vagina Monologues at the Historic Everett Theatre. She has performed in plays and independent films in Seattle for the last 5 years. Her day job is in private practice as a geriatric social worker. Carolyn received her B.A. from Tulane University in New Orleans and her Masters in Social Work from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Carolyn has been writing poetry and prose for the last seven years. One of her works was selected for the annual WPA publication.
Working with Esther in her Poeming the Silence class is truly a gift I give to myself. Gathering on Monday nights with a group of intelligent and creative women from all walks of life led and nurtured by Esther, we learn to take risks with our hearts and with our pens. A chance to go inside ourselves and tell parts of our story. Thanks Esther. Can't wait for the next class to begin!
For the last class of the session I used Lucille Clifton's "Homage to My Hips" as a writing trigger. Here is Carolyn's response:
Hips in the Mirror
Rounded, soft, undulating like a thickened Jell-O,
I peer down and they still seem perky.
Not perky like a 17 year old with a sloping
to the navel bikini,
firm and athletic
like two preschool sized basketballs.
Not perky like Marilyn with a maturing slope
that makes a silk dress call out as it shimmers--
feel me, hold me.
Not perky like Jackie O with a stately air
that screams breeding and riding pants.
Not perky like an 80 year old star of a long ago stage era
that softly calls out--catch me if you can.
Not perky like--oh, well, it seems
my dreams of a well enduring backside have faded.
It's not my carressable hips that I have observed,
Just my pooching stomach.