CHANGE MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES
There are times when our change management skills seem totally inadequate – when all doors seem to be closing on us and we feel overwhelmed.
How can we stay creative while absorbing changes, great or small, in our environment?
Peter Merrington is a poet, novelist and short story writer as well as a former lecturer at the University of the Western Cape and facilitator of many creative writing workshops.
Below are a few creative exercises, or desirable attitudes, he shared with us:
“I think that in times of loss the heart is often stirred, challenged and stimulated. Even if the heart is broken, what comes forth is authentic and a strangely valuable release. For a while, the sad heart is even able to savour what it has just made in words or lyrics. Words, verbal imagination, music, rhythm, images take over and make something entirely new. In doing so one is released, and engrossed, and feels a pulse of stimulation and new life.
1. At the end of a well-known poem by WB Yeats, Lapis Lazuli, which is all about change and plight, there are three figures engraved into a beautiful piece of lapis lazuli. They sing sad songs, and they grin while doing so. ‘Their eyes,’ Yeats tells us, ‘are gay’.
Write a poem that features a character in a difficult situation, at the edge of collapse. Then ask them to take a deep breath, and to find words for what they feel. See what happens if you put a tin guitar into their hands. Sit with them until they find words for a story or a song.
2. Read the opening lines of The Door by famous Czech poet Miroslav Holub in which he lists things that might just happen if the reader gets up to let the world in. Some of these possibilities seem quite ordinary; others are radically transformative, infinite and deeply mysterious:
Go and open the door.
Maybe outside there’s
a tree or a wood,
or a magic city.
Find the poem online and read it. Notice how the opening of the door, repeated throughout the poem, becomes a metaphor for something infinite and deeply mysterious.
Then write a poem in which you invite or instruct your reader to do something that might transform their lives: go to a river, visit some ruins, turn off their phone. Give examples of what may or may not happen if they follow this advice.
3. So many great poems of the past (from the Iliad and the Odyssey to the Psalms, Paradise Lost, and Tennyson’s In Memoriam) are about change (and loss and struggle). In the process, they have a transformational impact on you and me, both readers and writers. They become gates or portals. You can open them, or let them open you, and take it from there.
Write a poem in which you describe a particular experience that opened a door for you into a new world. How did it feel to open that door? What did you expect to find on the other side, and what was your actual experience? Was it terrifying or thrilling and exhilarating, or even both?
Always remember that you have the power to explore and transform the changes that are happening inside and around you – not by stopping them but by writing them, which is another way of opening the door. Take the initiative, use your imagination to create your own change and run with it. Rejoice in it.”
The AVBOB Poetry Competition opened on 1 August 2023 and closed on 30 November 23:59 2023. Visit our website regularly at https://www.avbobpoetry.co.za/ for editing tips and advice as well as updates about upcoming workshops.