Poeming the Silence
     is a continuing
     & revolving
     & story
     & community.


The class is structured, yet informal.
It is organized as a personal development or creative expression's group.
My primary goal is to create a safe and nurturing environment so we can
write, speak and  breathe ourselves onto the page. 

While we use poems to trigger writing, all written forms are encouraged --
diaries, fragments, stories, memoirs, dreams, recipes, lists, whatever we discover.
Participants interview each other, write poetic dyads, read their work
and sometimes combine collage art with their writings.
Poeming the Silence: A Women's Writing Class
dedicated to the use of the poem as a vehicle for accessing voice
                                                                                   Esther Altshul Helfgott, Ph.D., facilitator
This page was last updated on: August 8, 2014
Esther's Writing Works

Writing elicits insight. It fosters self- understanding & helps us to remember ourselves in the past.  It uncovers silences & secrets ....

Anna Helfgott, Seattle, 1980s, working for a national health care plan, in front of the University Bookstore, started writing at age 70.  She took classes and wrote poems and stories for over 20 years. Some were published.  Her journals covering her political activism, writing process and daily life are housed in the University of Washington Archives, Special Collections.  They are open to the public.
Esther'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
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!
                                               - Carolyn
The writing workshop for women with Esther has filled a need in me. Although I have been writing for years, and thought that I had been dealing "just fine" with issues of grieving, it turned out there were more layers trapped below. The small supportive group with its continuity has allowed me to go places I never could have ventured into alone.
                                 - Peggy

The 12 minute writes, seeded by Esther's  thoughtfully-chosen poems, were my favorite part of Poeming the Silence. It was nourishing to be with other women -- especially these particular women. I found a sense of quiet strength among us -- acceptance, understanding, empathy without pity, unusual depth. Allowing what is. In stillness. And laughter. And thoughtful consideration.
                                                      - Claire
Working with Esther is like forming a friendship.  She grabs your attention and brings you into her.  She addresses you one on one and approaches you as if you are a partner.
                                           - Ann L.
There was a healing nature to Poeming the Silence. We acknowledged those places in our lives where we were silent by writing about them & naming them & sharing with others, when we felt comfortable to do so.  For me, places of silence include: my father in a care facility; a mid-life woman in relation to her children & grandchildren; naming what brings me joy; finding sanctuary. The camaraderie of other writers created a safe place to explore aspects of our lives that we'd ignored & avoided. Poeming the Silence provided me an opportunity to anchor myself to the writing process.
                                                   - Denise
I met Esther through a summer course called "Institutions, Surveillance and the Writing Life" at Hugo House in Seattle.  I found her a welcome paradox:  warm yet unflinching, experienced yet fresh.  She was instrumental in helping me return to my own writing life, a life which had been sorely neglected.
               - Collin


Esther brings a combination of safety and risk taking to my work. She fuels my fire and my creativity. She is a skilled nurturer of process.  She is prepared.  She listens. She is flexible to change. Her feedback is clear, gentle and motivating.

                                                   - Ellen
Thank you, Esther, for a marvelous class.  You have helped me discover my voice in poetry.  I also appreciate your encouragement and your gentle facilitating.  You have created a very "safe" environment for exploration and learning.
    Relationships "happen" in your classes, and we get to know one another in very special ways.  Oh, if all education were only like this!  "The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery," a wise person once said. 
                                             - Jeanne
Esther's critiques of my poetry and prose have been frank and thorough, generous and compassionate.  She listens and reads with acuity and a highly inquiring mind, and has helped me reach greater clarity and authenticity in my writing.

                                   - Nancy     

Writing keeps the neurons working.  It's also your best friend.