- Take some time to arrive in your body and create a sense of grounded presence. Ask your companion for help or guidance if you need it.
- Acknowledge any pre-existing thoughts, associations, feelings or felt sense about the poem. Maybe noticing why you chose this poem (you may or may not have a sense of that), or if you feel it is ‘calling’ to you in some way.
- If you wish to read the poem yourself, read it aloud, as reading it silently may affect the companion’s engagement and presence in the process. Read it slowly and pause during the reading whenever you need to do so if you feel something arising within you that needs attention. You could pause after each line, and check the impact of the poem line by line, or whenever you feel a need to. Maybe certain words evoke a response. You could repeat a particular word, phrase, line or verse/part of the poem if it resonates with you.
- You might want your companion to repeat a line or phrase of the poem after you read it, or even to read the whole poem.
- If you want to work with your own poem, and you want the option of having the whole poem read to you by your companion, you can use the ‘chat’ facility to copy and paste it, or send them a weblink so they can access the poem online.
- Your companion can reflect what you say in a usual Focusing way, if you want them to, or they can listen silently.
- Focusing on a poem can sometimes bring up strong emotions – give yourself time and space to be with whatever arises in your body. This might mean, if your poem is long, that you don’t have time to get to the end of it in the allocated time. That’s ok – you can always come back to it another time by carrying it forward into another Focusing session. Sometimes a whole Focusing session can arise from just one line of a poem!
- Reading the poem may also bring up a memory, or a situation in your life, or an insight about something – give yourself time and space to embrace whatever arises during the process. What arises could be ‘personal’ or a response to something that’s happening in the world.
Marie McGuigan (2023)
Adapted from Focusing with Poetry Practical Guidelines with permission from Gordon Adam BFA (October 2022)