Writer Yuko Taniguchi and psychiatrist Dr. Kathryn Cullen explore the impact of the creative process on adolescents facing mental health challenges and how creative work can make the interpersonal communication between caregivers and patients more meaningful. Mental illness can narrow one’s view of self and the world, restricting creative ideas and enthusiasm about one’s potential and life’s possibilities. Helping adolescents develop themselves as artists promotes a sense of purpose, potential, and value, encouraging a more positive view of themselves in…
Poets are lumberjacks on paper. They listen to the sentences keenly and attentively to catch the spot where a sentence gets chopped in two. Each piece is cut into more pieces so that the poet can roll them over, change the order, mix and match by color and sound until the arrangement has a shape that connects to the poet’s heart. Poets’ work–searching for an incomplete piece to create a poem–reflects the Japanese aesthetic concept, Wabi-Sabi: beauty exists in things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete.
Wabi,(侘 simplicity, quietude) and Sabi (寂, partina of age and loneliness) were separate pieces, but over time, they were combined to mean finding beauty in unconventional spaces, such as the broken, damaged, and the aged. Such a concept is not unique to Japan. Ernest Hemingway famously stated, “The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong in the broken places.”
What does it mean to think about our lives as imperfect pieces which are filled with beauty? How is this concept understood for those who hold the piece of mental illness? Through poetry and origami, we will contemplate this question together.
Begin with Pieces
What makes you, you?
How softly or strongly you sing
the songs you love, the way your shadow
persistently follows your body, how
enormous the darkness feels
in your chest-
All the pieces you have touched
huddle inside your arms like birds
in the nest, ready
to fly out.