KARACHI: The Greek Soranus in the 1st century CE used to prescribe literary texts to his patients so that they may heal and chanted poetry for the well-being of his clan.
The violence in our society is so strongly embedded that you feel it surrounding you, day and night. However, turning to poetry can help you survive through these circumstances.
Zabaan co-founder Asad Alvi and Spoken Stage founder Mariam Riaz Paracha, a duo who believed in arts and advocacy combined the two together to help teach people ways to deal with chaotic circumstances in a workshop titled 'Poetry as a Catharsis' at The Second Floor (T2F) on Wednesday afternoon. As many as four people attended the session.
This was the third session of the workshop, which will be hosted on alternate days for about two weeks at the T2F. The next sessions are scheduled to be held on June 24, June 27 and June 29.
Initially, Paracha conducted a warm-up activity with the participants asking them to imagine holding a ball in their hands. Then she asked them to describe the ball they were playing with such as metallic ball or a huge basketball.
Later, Paracha uttered words such as 'confidence', 'guilt', 'love', 'pain' and 'abandonment' and asked the participants to depict these words thorough their facial expressions and gestures.
Next, four girls were asked to be seated and Alvi forwarded them their own poetic compositions which narrated their pain, similar to each other. Each poetry composition belonging to the other unknown participants dealt with the issues of love and longing and being caged like a bird. A participant Hafsa* read out a poem and described it as lyrical. "It is something I can relate to."
Yet another, Asma*, asserted that the poetry allowed "someone to understand us, without us telling them."
Process of healing
Poetry is a way to vent feelings; it is a globally acknowledged fact. After the session, two participants said that they felt like never before, they got the opportunity to open up new dimensions of life and see things from other people's perspectives.
"I had inhibitions before, but not now. It is certainly looking within, that helps," said Noor*.
Asma viewed it otherwise. "Poetry heals not just by looking within but by looking beyond. There is a whole list of words that I can now choose from and write about."
Workshops like these help participants tell their story, remarked Paracha. "Writing is a powerful tool and story-telling is most obvious way of doing it. Discussions like these help them [the people] come out from their [shells] and pull them out from what they fear the most."
*Names have been changed to protect identity
Published in The Express Tribune, June 24th, 2016.
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