Tuesday, July 21, 1987

Napa State Hospital Poetry Journal, July 21 & 23

Napa State Hospital Poetry Journal, Days 17-20

7/21, Tuesday I typed up poems at home. This is wrap-up week. I need to do my final bill this week.

Anabelle's class went well, the kids were friendly and pleased to see me and I gave them poems and we made editing changes. They did some drawings. I handed back their work and they were very excited.

Linda's class, my favorite class ever. They began making their poem posters, we did some final editing. Carol wrote her first real poem unasked. New kid and Chris did a surfing poem. Benjamin had trouble settling down so far, no problems from him. Yvonne swears she wrote a typed poem, so does Louis—who to believe? Who wrote the poem? This is like the biblical story of the two mothers and one baby. Now I'm less certain who wrote those other poems out of class as well there could be a forgery ring going on.

Afternoon wrap up Floy's class didn't show up after I typed up all those poems.
Mark worked on the computer with his own poem. We worked on some other poems in his morning critique.

Alison's class is next. I'm feeling a bit poorly and don't mind the cancellations. The computer is making me nauseous. No I don't really have time to write, or I do really have time to write and there's nothing to write about.

7/23 Thursday Wednesday recap. AM wrapup, PM group canceled. I've been typing poems nonstop for days, trying to return everyone's work.

Linda is getting started on the poem posters and possibly Bonnie too for the final art project.

Thursday later, Jocelyn canceled, but it's still a whirlwind of a day. Lockdown groups on on T – 12.

I probably put in 80 hours this week. Thursday and next week beyond what I'm paid on the contract. I need to take time off in September. Still no paycheck.

Linda's other group was glad to see me, they brought brownies for us. How sweet. Even Craig came out of his hundred mile-per-hour world to make some sense. It seems very real in there. Must be the lockdown ward.

I told Vance about how Pamela likes his poems. He was pleased. He wanted to know who would replace me. I said, I'm impossible to replace. Sometimes they just need lively banter. They weren't to take they want to continue this project when I'm gone. I need to give Susan some ideas.

So I really enjoy this residency and sad to see it end, but boy am I ready for a break. I'm ready for it to end.

Thursday is my toughest and best of day.

Rehab end Louis's group, the adolescents are sweet.

Forget about the fourth through sixth grade boys.

Anabelle's kids were good this time too.

I'm committed to getting a poem from everyone for the book or, books?

Lots of adolescents. The month break will make it easier for me to do the book.

STATS: Direct contract 110 people and about 20 staff have written poems with me. For approximately 20 days. Some have worked with me for six sessions, others as few as one or two sessions, a few have worked with me 8 to 10 times. That makes it similar to a CPITS residency. Average exposure is 5 to 6 sessions.

The half-hour model program was thrown out.  I was told that a 20 minutes attention span was the most I would get. And I was told to try to make the classes shorter yet.

And most sessions were at least an hour. And I knew they were very roll. The age span of my clients was anywhere from fourth grade to 80 years of age. Of the 110 people I worked with, +20 staff, over half, about 50 to 60, were adolescents. Approximately 57 into in three classes, I tried to count them only once I was not always successful. About five people worked with me only once. There was an overwhelming repeat audience even among the dropouts. Going to class and working with them directly is still the best way.

Imagine if the dollar
was going to crawl down the street
like a snail, then rain would fall
declines back up into the sky
without knowing
the shape of the land.

This blue vessel of my heart
is shaking, hollow
before winter crawls out
of the oven of summer.
Parachuted with weights,
there is no more sky
left to hold up the air.

Some random nonsense
I am not doing word salad with the patients,
there is order,
I'm trying to open up their preconceived ideas,
which are very narrow,
of what writing really is.
Every once in a while
I run into a word salad writer
and it's a challenge
to get them to write coherently.
I should talk, using word cards
my work is word salad as well
so here I am introducing structure
when I'm normally inclined
to go the other direction.

I still have not found my final journal with CAC wrap up notes. But I did find this from our Castles in the Air bookparty. 2/18/1988

Letter to my Napa State Hospital Poetry Students

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