By Chelsea Haith
Fists clench and release as the poets stood and shared, their voices soaring on melody or shaking with grief. It was an evening of mourning the loss of innocence, mourning an ideal world where children can trust parents, trust the police, trust that someone will pick them up when they fall. No one picks you up when you fall, but you can stitch yourself back together with words.
The Gender Action Project (GAP) and Cycle of Knowledge collaborated in an event aimed at using poetry and storytelling to heal on 18 August. There were stories of brutality, a black body stoned to death before his son could get to know him. A girl wept for her mother, who is too afraid to teach her daughter to bow to no man.
Sian Ferguson, the Vice-Chair person of GAP, stressed the need for Trigger Warnings and the participants responded appropriately. The event, following on the recent Silent Protest, was intended to give people the platform to share their artistic responses to their experiences of pain. “We chose the topic of healing because we wanted something universal, a lot of people can relate to it,” she said.
“For me healing is a journey, and it’s not entirely beautiful but it is something that is positive because it’s moving towards something that is happy,” Ferguson explained.
The healing process requires sufferers to make an active decision. “I think that for a lot of people healing requires a lot of commitment, because it’s not just a once off decision that you make. Every day you have to promise yourself that you’re going to heal,” she said, speaking from experience as a sufferer of PTSD.
The event also addressed issues such as #BlackLivesMatter and the marginalisation of disabled people. Comparing the experience of trying to heal to that of being stuck on a boat on a stagnant lake, Ferguson explained that for marginalised people, healing is particularly difficult because it requires an act of self-love.
“It’s really difficult to centre yourself in a world that tells you you’re not supposed to exist or in a world that tells you that your existence is not as important as another person’s existence,” explained Ferguson.