On the evening of February 24, residents at Phoenix House programs in Venice, CA celebrated Black History Month with poetry. Hosted by Program Director Akilah Templeton, residents shared poems dealing with issues of recovery, solidarity, personal relationships, and life advice. Two guest poets also read their work, Dr. Maja Trochimczyk, Senior Director of Planning at Phoenix House, and Beverly M. Collins, an accomplished poet of wit and wisdom, who presented selections from her recently published book Mud in Magic (Moonrise Press, 2015). Ms. Collins donated a copy of her book to Phoenix House’s growing poetry library.
Throughout February, Ms. Templeton encouraged clients to write poetry or read poetry books in search of a poem that moves them or expresses their personal feelings. Some residents decided to read verse by famous authors such as Langston Hughes or Maya Angelou. Others wrote their own verse, using a free verse format or various rhyme schemes. The diversity and richness of self-expression was so impressive that Dr. Trochimczyk decided to put the residents’ poetry into a chapbook to be printed for all participants in April, which is National Poetry Month.
Ms. Collins read two poems selected from her book, Mud in Magic, “Next” and “Up for Air.” Both provide advice suitable for individuals in recovery who may struggle with the weight of their past. It is important, said Ms. Collins, to always look forward, to give ourselves a break, and to not be too hard on ourselves for past mistakes. There is always hope, always time to fix things, to start anew.
Phoenix House provides outpatient and residential treatment for adults in Venice and Santa Ana, and treatment for teens in Los Angeles. If you or your loved one needs help, please do not hesitate to call our toll-free number today: 888 671 9392.