Friday, 5 April 2013

Poetry Month 2013: Dawna Markova

I heard Dawna Markova speak at the Systems Thinking Conference in the USA some years ago. It was two hour plenary session and it felt like twenty minutes. Looking back, it was a session that changed my life - and it did it through poetry. I came home and repurposed my life.

The poem that captured me is one that is well known: "I will not die an unlived life".  I've copied some key lines in this post but I urge you to look at this website which has the background to the poem and why Dawna wrote it. It comes from a book by the same title. Reading a few lines in isolation is helpful, but reading the whole book is life transforming.

I will not die an unlived life. 
I will not live in fear 
of falling or catching fire. 
I choose to inhabit my days, 
to allow my living to open me, 
to make me less afraid, 
more accessible; 
to loosen my heart 
until it becomes a wing, 
a torch, a promise. 
I choose to risk my significance, 
to live so that which came to me as seed 
goes to the next as blossom, 
and that which came to me as blossom, 
goes on as fruit. 

How can this poem be used in the workplace?

The intent of this poem is primarily about purpose - about renewing and regaining it. It's about not being a victim to circumstance. It's about "risking your significance".

I use this in coaching and small group work when there's a need to investigate "purpose" and reasons for doing what we do and being who we are. It helps with setting priorities and finding ways to identify passion.

Ultimately, the poem is also about humility and stewardship, so it's also good to use with leaders, to help them feel their place in their world.

The poem can elicit some very deep and personal feelings so I don't use it in large groups. Dawna Markova can do this because it's her poem and she's an amazing poet-professional.  I try to give the readers a safe place to feel its meaning.

1 comment:

Elaine said...

It's a great and wonderful poem Sarah, we all need inspiration in our lives. It's strange how poetry reading is generally derided or devalued when we spend most of our waking lives being bombarded by words in the media or even in music.