The Poetic Experience as Catharsis

In this craft lab, we’ll explore the intersection of poetry and catharsis through a narrative therapy lens. We’ll discuss various tenets of narrative therapy and how they apply to the creative process of generating new work, particularly around tender subject matter. The lab will involve close readings of poems that have beautifully captured this tension and discuss the difference between writing for publication versus writing for healing (and how they might overlap). We’ll talk about what it takes to write effectively about trauma, loss, grief, love and joy, and how to do these things within a framework of genuine self-care and compassion.

The lab will include a meditation; tips for writing with (and through) difficult emotions and experiences; an exploration of what self-care means for us on individual and collective levels; and narrative therapy prompts for creating honest, clear and unflinching poetry about potentially challenging experiences.

All participants will have access to a cloud recording of the craft lab for one month afterward.

Craft Lab Details

Hala AlyanHala Alyan is the author of the novel Salt Houses, winner of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize and the Arab American Book Award and a finalist for the Chautauqua Prize. Her latest novel, The Arsonists’ City, was published in March 2021 and was a finalist for the 2022 Aspen Words Literary Prize. She is also the author of four award-winning collections of poetry, most recently The Twenty-Ninth Year. Her work has been published by the New Yorker, the Academy of American Poets, LitHub, the New York Times Book Review and Guernica. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and daughter, where she works as a clinical psychologist.