Sunday, 16 October 2011

The poet doesn't invent, he listens

Jean Cocteau's quotation can be found on this page full of poetry about person centredness.

How do poets see and hear the world? I'd suggest they do so very much like everyone else, but they are ready to describe their experience of the world with an honesty, precision and economy that we find beautiful.

Person-centred approaches also require us to listen well, then to endeavour to sum up what we have heard with as much precision and respect for the person as we can. We can't invent, we can't speak for the person, where the person doesn't use words to speak, we're obliged to honestly and carefully make our best guess about what the person is telling us, as we observe their responses to the experiences that they share with us during our time beside them.

This information pack by Nicola Grove and Barbara MacIntosh gives us insightful guidance about how to listen well.

Besides listening, person centred approaches require us to think. Rather than waiting for some 'expert' to bring down an opinion from on high, the person and the people closest to the person are the ones who are called to think together.

Here's a very short and autumnal poem by 'Anteus' that I think gives a taste of some of the experience of people thinking together, sometimes achieving progress, sometimes maybe even transformation.


Strangers gather

Seeking fruit among brambles

Leaving together

Cocteau's picture 'Beauty and The Beast' (above) asks all kinds of searching questions about the role of the artist. It also suggests to me all kinds of questions about our own role and responsibilities when we're creating person centred descriptions with the people we support. I'll return to this topic soon, so watch this space.

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