We opened our time with Portia Nelson’s Autobiography in Five Short Chapters. It’s the story of a woman who repeatedly falls into a “deep hole in the sidewalk” until she learns how to walk around it, and eventually travel in a new direction.
It’s a metaphor of sorts for refusing to be a victim, stopping the blame, and taking full responsibility for one’s own life.
In five short paragraphs, the author re-envisions her journey through life with “open eyes” now and re-writes her story.
Several of the incarcerated women writers had heard Nelson’s poem in the context of their addiction recoveries at various times.
And they LOVED the image of the woman swallowed up by a Brooklyn sidewalk, a symbolic representation of the entrapment they’ve felt in drug abuse, destructive intimate relationships, chronic mental illness, and lives of crime.
Several of the “inside” writers modeled their pieces on Portia Nelson’s poetic form, attempting to rewrite their own narratives. Read on… Continue reading