Souper Poetry

by Dr Marilyn McGowan - Centre Manager for Poole

Ahead of National Poetry Day on Friday 6th October, Iron Mill College in Poole welcomed almost forty participants to an evening of poetic artistry and gourmet delights. The evening was an opportunity to test out Freud’s view that counselling should align itself with writers and artists because of their capacity to understand the depths of the human heart. He would not have been disappointed.  

Three different artists shared not only their talents as wordsmiths but also a unique insight into what motivates their writing and how they each individually create their art and make links to counselling.

Joanna Barnard, award winning author, counsellor and teacher of creative writing, opened the evening by sharing her journey through the highs and lows of being a professional writer. From her first publication at only 9 years old to her award winning novel Precocious she offered an honest, and sometimes humorous, insight into the process of success, rejection, unpublished works and the compulsion to write. Drawing parallels between the curiosity, empathy and observation of novelists and counsellors, she offered wise words on how therapists could become writers. Joanna also shared some of the problems that brought writers into counselling as they traversed a path which was often more fraught than lucrative. She ended her talk by reading from one of her novels and offered her own take on poetry with a verse called The Gift.

After refreshments which included homemade sweet potato soup, the evening continued with Ellie Brooks, a student with the Iron Mill. Ellie is not just an equalist poet. She is a captivating and passionate orator. If there were any descendants of the mediaeval mummers, they would surely reincarnate in the form of Ellie Brooks. Another award-winning poet, Ellie’s performance was as much a social commentary on saving the planet and outrage against the roles and shapes that are ascribed to women as it was a joy and delight in rhyme and rhythm. A reminder that counselling, like Ellie’s poetry is as much about raging against social injustice as listening in a quiet and secure space.   

Ed Taylor may have finished his studies with the Iron Mill College but he reminded everyone that counselling is not about what happens in the classroom but how therapists take that learning into the counselling room. He ended the evening with a poignant set of poems based on loss, sharing his own poetic narratives about the early loss of his father and the later loss of his mother. Taking his poetic sentience into his counselling with clients, he reflected on the power of grief and recovery, encouraging his clients to connect with their own healing through their own poetry.  As he ended his last poem, the room fell silent in quiet reflection of the power of counselling to help victims of abuse, but also at the way poetry, and Ed, could articulate this journey.

This evening was part of an alumni event for students and friends of Iron Mill College.

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Course Venues:   Exeter   |   Poole

Certificate in Counselling