The day after Veterans Day, Nicole Eugene, a doctoral candidate in the Ohio University School of Communication Studies, will host a free workshop titled “Hidden Poetry: How does poetry help people who carry the hidden wounds of war and trauma?” The event will center around a panel, discussion and poetry workshop aimed at examining how individuals with hidden disabilities (such as post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, prosthesis, and other hidden wounds of war) can utilize poetry as a creative outlet for healing.
Individuals and veterans with hidden disabilities often silently cope with physical, psychological or spiritual wounds that aren’t visually obvious to others. “Hidden Poetry” was designed to provide a safe space for individuals to better understand the life of one who has a hidden disability, and to offer a creative outlet for managing disability and health. All are welcome to attend this event – whether they are veterans or not – for an evening of compelling discussion, questions, stories, and conversation.
“There definitely is support for the healing power of writing,” Eugene said. “Poetry is shorter than having to write essays and journal entries and other kinds of therapeutic writing practices. Poetry allows people to have a kind of freedom that those other mediums may not provide. So yes, I really like poetry in terms of how it can help an individual find their words.”
On November 12th, “Hidden Poetry” will begin with a panel and discussion at 6 p.m. in Baker Center, Baker Theatre where four humanities scholars will share what they have learned about how poetry affects veterans and people who have experienced trauma.
Following the discussion at 8 p.m. in Baker Center, Room 242, a special poetry workshop, open to veterans only, will take place, allowing veterans to learn how to use poetry to reflect and communicate the experiences they carry. The poetry workshop will also include a discussion about bridging non-veteran and veteran culture. The veteran poetry workshop has limited seating, so an RSVP is encouraged by emailing email@example.com.
In a large part, Eugene was inspired to create this project from her relationship and past experiences with her father, who is also a veteran.
“This past summer when I was preparing the project proposal I talked to my dad about his time in the military, because he didn’t ever talk to us about it when we were kids,” Eugene said. “He went to Germany, before the fighting in Vietnam had escalated to the full war, as a medical assistant. When he came back to the United States it was the height of the anti-Vietnam protests and demonstrations and it had gotten to the point where veterans were being assaulted. If you had a uniform on or wore your boots out, you could be assaulted for that. People were so upset about the war and they were taking it out on the veterans. For the most part, nobody wanted to hear about Germany, nobody wanted to hear about what was going on, the tension and the issues were just too political and too charged. So this was part of his life, and this is the case with a lot of veterans, it gets buried and put away someplace. So when he came back he just dealt with the adjustment silently.”
Overall Eugene is hoping to be able to open up the doors for conversation with veterans and their experiences. She understands that many people relate veterans to what they see on TV, the movies and the news, but that isn’t always a true representation of a veteran or his or her experience.
“There are a lot of opportunities to misunderstand veterans, but the humanities perspective is different,” Eugene said. “The humanities perspective is about looking at lives and experiences to gain understanding, not to further a particular agenda or issue. The project, the proposal, and the workshop is rooted in that realization that as a culture we can help create an environment where people know and understand veterans better. By doing events, by making things public, by saying “That these are things that veterans deal with”, “This is what war is like” and aiding them with tools that will help people understand it, we can help.”
As a doctoral student in the health communication track Eugene spends the majority of her time doing research and writing. In her studies she has found ways to connect her research to collaboration and outreach on-campus.
“Ohio University actually has a large base of veterans, both current, past, and children of military families and I wanted to connect with them,” Eugene said. “I wanted to be able to create spaces and opportunities for people that have hidden disabilities to not feel weird. So it’s not just a space for people with hidden disabilities, but it’s for people who also know someone who has to deal with this. A space where they are allowed to be and learn without having to decide to come out or identify as someone with a hidden disability, because you shouldn’t have to ask people to make themselves vulnerable to help them. I want to make sure people recognize the need for a space like this and that we have a basic understanding of what veterans are like that isn’t based off of misunderstanding.”
If you go:
The two free programs on Thu., Nov. 12, 2015 will focus on the intersection of poetry, veterans and hidden disabilities.
Panel and Discussion
Ohio University Baker Center, Baker Center Theatre
A panel discussion of how poetry helps people who carry the hidden wounds of war and trauma. Four established humanities scholars have been invited to share what they have learned about how poetry affects veterans and people who have experienced trauma. Panelists include: West Point Professor of English Jason Hoppe, Veteran Studies scholar Rodger Thompson, OSU Professor David Adams, and Ohio University Poetry and War scholar Becca Lachman. Refreshments will be available between sessions.
Veteran Poetry Workshop
Ohio University Baker Center, Room 242
A veterans-only poetry workshop facilitated by Darrel Alejandro Holnes and Becca Lachman. We encourage workshop participants to RSVP at firstname.lastname@example.org because space is limited. During the workshop, veterans will learn how to use poetry to better communicate about the hidden wounds they carry. The workshop will also include a discussion about bridging non-veteran and veteran culture.
For more information visit the Hidden Poetry Facebook page.