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Alexander, G. (2006). Poetry as a form of Notetaking. Fort Da, 12(1):26-41.

(2006). Fort Da, 12(1):26-41

Poetry as a form of Notetaking

Gene Alexander, MFT

Each of us has the task of keeping our own practice of psychoanalytic psychotherapy and analysis alive — alive in the sense of being responsive to ideas and receiving and growing them in the soil of our own uniqueness. Part of that process is what we do with what we are exposed to in our patients, in our selves, and in our on-going education. Perhaps, as is true for me, there are ideas and words that have become over-saturated for you. When we hear them, or use them, we begin to feel a familiar deadness inside us and around us.

For my part, I am a terrible student. I get bored easily. I have had to find some way to keep a creative excitement alive, some way to keep what I am learning in tune with my own idiosyncrasies. If fact, if I fail at this, I really fail at holding on to much at all. I believe that what we are left with from conferences, classes, lectures, and the many, many hours of clinical work in which we are engaged is a kind of residue — a transformed internal experience — which may or may not resemble what was originally transmitted, but which is personal and therefore useful to us in our own individual sensibilities and our work with patients.

My own process is to listen or read, and to fall in and out of reverie, which I then bring to the practice of writing poetry — that is, writing poetry has become my form of notetaking. What is gained is a kind of ground watering: the ideas flow into the cracks, crevasses, and earth down to where it can join with other experiences. At this level, for a time, the work is invisible to me. It is only later that I discover how the various hidden streams came together into a new understanding. What is lost, on the other hand, is that capacity that some learners have of holding onto discrete ideas and remembering where they fit into the constructs of a particular theoretician. That latter ability is as foreign to me as perhaps writing poetry is to others.

The poems I have put together here are in response to several presentations given by various institutes and organizations over the last seven or eight years. They may or may not stimulate a state of reverie for you, but they may encourage your own associations and your own appreciation for them.

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