Listen and be Heard

Hive Poetry Project is about people getting together to write, read, listen and be heard.

Telling and listening to stories is timeless and essential to being human. At one time we sat together in a circle around the fire to tell stories and listen. Now, we read books, see plays and musicals, and go to the movies to have stories told to us. Being read to as a child is an essential part of growing up. But how often do we tell our own story? How many of us think our story is worth telling?

Writing, whether it’s about your life, a fictional story, or poetry, is about letting inspiration take you on a journey. With an open mind and an open heart, you’ll wind up in unexpected places when you follow the narrative where it wants to take you. Straightforward or surreal, dead serious or hilarious, or all of that at the same time, writing can be about anything. Small, seemingly mundane experiences can often bear the greatest fruit when you allow for the unexpected and give the moment of writing our full attention.

For all our technology and mediums of connection these days, there also seems to be a pervasive sense of disconnect. And after our collective experience with the pandemic, we’ve learned the stark truth that there is no substitute for people being with other people in the same physical space, listening, being heard, and feeling connected. Through the Workshop, I help young people find their voices, share their stories, get connected, and dispel the myth that writing and spoken word is only for a select, talented few.

I’ve done classes with refugee and immigrant teens and adults, at-risk youth, and people in recovery. I’ve seen the power of poetry to open people up, help them move through difficult emotions, and discover new truths about themselves. When a person feels heard, they feel connected.

I have a love for bees and how they can be both solitary and live together in Hives. Writing is usually a solitary occurrence, but spoken word is a communal experience. Both are necessary. We all need that time and space to be with our thoughts and write, but I believe a poem isn’t finished until we share it. When we honor ourselves enough to read or recite our stories and poetry to an audience, the circle of connection is completed and a feeling of isolation becomes impossible. And we, in turn, honor our fellow writers by being an attentive audience member for them. Feeling heard is feeling connected and is one of the most transformative experiences a person can have.

Hive is a word for community. The poetry reading is a supportive hive where everyone makes sure that we each have a say and feels heard. Connecting face to face, ear to voice, awakens compassion in our hearts, and compassion is the foundation of a loving and peaceful world. That’s why I’m passionate about setting up microphones and encouraging people, all people, to write something down and read it to the rest of us. I believe in the power of that simple connection to heal individuals and the world.

I have learned the power of listening and being heard over the years, and it’s a gift I want to give back wherever and to whoever I can.

Mike Nelson