The words on my book, Layers of Possibility, are written by Dr. Robert Carroll, Department of Psychology, UCLA. He and I have been long-time members of The National Association for Poetry Therapy. His words express how and why poetry matters. Robert writes, "Poetry can promote healing, growth, and transformation." My experience of Bob's knowing continues when I accompany victims/survivors, inmates, and prison staff. The essence of my talks, lectures, and writing workshops, is to remind those in my formal and informal classes, that their story and their voicing of that story matters.
In our societies and communities, even as deep want for
justice as a lived and living experience appears to be wanted, what
stands out, is how quickly, easily, and sinisterly our stories and our
voices are silenced; most often for "our own good." Justice that makes
room and takes time is not a justice which hears only part of the story;
is not a justice which likes "to get this problem over with as quickly as possible,"
to move on to the next problem.
Justice, according to Judge John Reilly,
with whom I traded a copy of my book, Sawbonna: A Real Life Restorative Justice Story, for his book, Bad Medicine: A Judge's Struggle for Justice in a First Nation's Community, is
"right relationship and harmony." These can only occur when we stop
pretending that ignoring and categorizing crimes and hurts of any shape
and size, will make things better, and as fast as possible.
Depersonalizing justice wants quick solutions. Poetic Justice does not
view this as good policy.
In sharing conversation
with Howard Sapers, Correctional Investigator of Canada, we both agreed
that any policy: public, private, or else, which denigrates human
rights, insisting on depersonalization (deontologification) with
disregard for individual voices and individual stories, is a menace to
our communities and our societies. Is toxic. And it is only when we
listen, when we hear, when we witness, when we are witnessed, not from
places of power-over, or prepackaged professional masking, but rather
from our shared-humanity, that we live the values of Restorative
Justice, in the Crucible of Sawbonna. Those values: Respect -
Responsibility - Relationship. And Wonder. For to cease depersonalizing
ourselves, we cease speaking and listening from an us versus them idea
of what and how humanity means. To stop hiding behind titles and masks,
and to enter into "right relationship" clear, authentic, and vulnerable,
is to live justice.
LET US LISTEN
(From my book, The Other Inmate: Mediating Justice Mediating Hope; also in French. The translation was Funded by Correctional Services Canada)
Listen, it's a mad, mad world,
And I am filled with words.
Words I want to spill upon a page.
Upon pages. And pages.
I can't make any promises,
Well, maybe one: I will tell my truth.
I will write my story.
Just listen. Please. I will listen
To your story too.