In late October 2015 we opened a circle at Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility with a poem by Ethel Pochocki called “The Star at the Heart of Things.” Shortly thereafter, I posted the piece of artwork I had done in that group, with its associated writing, on my personal blog.
Then, about six weeks later, I received this note:
I was pleasantly surprised when I came across your blog using my mother’s (Ethel Pochocki) work (“The Star at the Heart of Things”) with your writing group work with incarcerated women. As Executor of her Estate, I occasionally Google her name to be sure her work isn’t being used in a negative light and/or without permission. Not to worry; my mom would be honored and humbled that her work was used as the opening poem for the group. She passed away five years ago, and these moments when I find or hear of her work inspiring others, are moments of grace in my grief. Thank you. Rosemary.
To which I replied:
I was so moved by your taking the time to write to me that I am sending you a small token of gratitude – for you, your mother, the work that comes from this kind of cross-fertilizaiton.
The October evening under discussion, when we opened with ‘The Star at the Heart of Things,’ we also invited women to make art with string-and-ink, followed by pastel to highlight what they ‘saw’ in the string images. Then, writing.
I selected three writings from that evening, accompanied by the artwork, so you could get a sense of some of the directions your mother’s words prompted.
And again, thank you so much for your kind words and for reaching out to me.
These moments of grace are rare enough. It was an honor to be able to respond. And in turn, to be able to share the entire episode here, with you.