The Poet in Community program at the University of Toronto-- It's time to make the connections

“Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself. I am large, I contain multitudes.” Walt Whitman

The Poet in Community program at U of T has been going now for 10 years and yet this is the first I’m writing of it here. Why is that? I’m asking myself. And I realize I’ve fallen prey to exactly what this program was created to counter — the tendency to separate parts of ourselves into ‘this goes here that goes there.’ As in how a chemistry student doesn’t necessarily tell her friends she likes to sing or a person working in the library doesn’t share with their colleagues their disability or a person in academia doesn’t think they’re feelings matter in an essay. We separate the parts unconsciously, the way I did here.

For years I’ve promoted the PIC work with the support of the university administration even enjoying a spot of virtual real estate on the Hart House website for which I’m grateful and still thrilled. And yet ‘that was for students or staff and are others interested or is it OK to share this there? Will there be consequences?’ Perhaps. Always. Maybe. But the point is — it’s all one thing — it’s one person doing what they do, being who they are. Why partition, for whom do we make these decisions? This is the work I do with poetry and this website has my name on it and why wouldn’t I share it here so people who want to find it could find it? So hey! Poet in Community here. The workshops I offer are for students and staff at U of T, and guests when space is available.

Here’s the original and still true goal of the program:

The Poet in Community (PIC) program uses creative writing to address the needs, passions and interests of students. Through workshops and conversations, the program offers a space that’s not as formal as a classroom, or as casual as a cafe. It’s a learning experience without evaluation. There’s no teacher and no boss. Here it is possible connect the intellectual with the emotional, the physical and the social.

For information on upcoming workshops, check out the Poet in Community FB group. Or contact me if you have questions.

Ronna Bloom