By Faith Evans and David Markwardt
A column published for Association for Challenge Course Technology
Poet: Patrick Overton
Welcome to the inaugural edition of Poetry Works! As seasoned challenge course practitioners, we know the limits of rational thought and the value of emotional experience. Often we take people on challenge courses because we believe they can benefit from a visceral experience to change their thinking and behavior. We believe poetry can deepen a challenge course experience. The timely reading of a well-chosen, relevant poem can add value to the experience of a low event, high event, and debrief. In this and coming issues of Parallel Lines, we will offer a poem, ideas of how to use it, and tips on reading poems. Please feel free to contact us with comments and questions.
“When we walk to the edge
Of all the light we have known,
And we take a step into
The darkness of the unknown,
We must believe that
One of two things will happen:
There will be something solid to stand on
Or we will be taught to fly.”
- Patrick Overton
Ideas for how to use the poem
Overton’s poem might be read at the beginning of a program of high events… then read again at the beginning of the debrief.
Questions might address, What was your “edge”? How did you experience “the darkness of the unknown?” (If you did.) Literally and metaphorically, was there something “solid to stand on”? And if so, what? Or were you “taught to fly”? And in what way(s) did you “fly?”
Poems contain condensed language. Although most people loved rhyming and the music of poems as children, they often grow unaccustomed to hearing it. Take your time reading. Breathe. Read more slowly than you may think is necessary. (You wouldn’t want a participant to race up the Pamper Pole to get it over with, would you?) Pause at punctuation and line breaks. Consider reading the poem a second time so everyone really hears it.
Faith Evans, PlayFully, Inc and David Markwardt, Teamwork in Action Director, Santa Fe Community College
email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org