Poet and clinical psychologist Lisa C. Krueger has recently published an article on the relations between poetry and therapy. The article, “Ars Poetica and the Talking Cure: Poetry, Therapy, & the Quest to Create,” appears in the latest issue of The Writer’s Chronicle (47.2 (Oct/Nov, 2014): 86-93). While the whole article is fascinating, one part in particular caught my attention: the focus on the turn in poetry and therapy. Krueger writes:
Within the structure of these endeavors [poetry and therapy] there are similar movements of progression, a turning and returning to points of departure. A poem may require repetition, a restoration of words; therapy may require a return to the past, repeating and rewriting words that have been spoken, weaving history into new language. Like a sonnet, therapy aims toward a turning point, a volta-like moment of awareness, new understanding of material “in the room.” (87-88)
Krueger then discusses how W.S. Merwin’s poem “My Hand” “mirrors the therapeutic movement” (87). I love this connection. I’ve written on Merwin and the turn–for example, here. And, in fact, in my contribution to Until Everything Is Continuous Again: American Poets on the Recent Work of W.S. Merwin, I point to “My Hand” as being one of the many poems in The Shadow of Sirius that has a great turn in it.