Book Giveaway & Guest Post by Author Cynthia Gustavson

Welcome to Author Cynthia Gustavson!


Cynthia Blomquist Gustavson was born in rural Minnesota to a jazz musician and a waitress in 1947. She is the author of five poetry collections, several poetry workbooks for therapists, and has published in numerous journals. She was educated at Gustavus Adolphus College, Boston University, Louisiana State University, United Seminary of the Twin Cities, and Oklahoma State University, and has taught at Northeastern State University in Tallequah, Oklahoma, and Louisiana State University in Shreveport, Louisiana, and has been an invited lecturer around the country.

In her twenty-two years as a social worker she has worked in drug prevention, practiced individual and group therapy, worked extensively with caregivers of the chronically ill and developmentally disabled.

A much acclaimed poet and author, the winner of a New Millennium Writings Award in 2002 and finalist for the Rita Dove Poetry Award from the Salem College Center for Women Writers in 2004, Gustavson lives and works in Tulsa, Oklahoma with her husband of 40 years.

Guest Post: Writing for Self-Understanding

I am lucky because I get to combine my two passions into a profession, that of poet and writer, and psycho-therapist. Long before the advent of medicine, poetry was a powerful tool in healing. It was for me. Brought up in a home where we never talked about feelings, poetry was my emotional outlet.

Using poetry and writing for self-understanding is emphasizing the “process” of writing, rather than the end product. Not all of us care if our poetry is published. What we care about is expressing those parts of us that are hidden deep within, and emerge only with special care.

Here’s a poetry therapy exercise from one of the 6 workbooks in my 2006 Blooming Twig Books In-Versing Your Life Series: Use your name to write an acrostic, a poem that starts each line with a letter from your name, and describes who you are. Here is an example (Fe-Vers: Feeling Verses for Teens) using my nickname Cindy.

C hanging every moment, but
I nside knowing who I am,
N ever wanting to be bored,
D efiant, (Some call it stubborn,)
Y elling from the inside. (I call it poetry.)

Here’s another exercise from Re-Versing the Numbers: A Poetry Workbook for Eating Disorders. Use a nature metaphor to describe who you used to be, and who you are now. I had a 14 year old new mother tell me, “I used to be a flower, but now I am a stem, because I am broken.” Wow! That really got us started talking about what mattered to her, and at the end I asked her to go home and write: “I am now . . . but I will be. . .”

My children’s book, Ballad of the Rag Man (Blooming Twig Books, 2009) was originally written as an exercise for my children’s poetry therapy workbook Fe-Vers: Feeling Verses for Children. I was seeing in my practice that parents were teaching children to be afraid of people who were different from them. Now children and parents can read the story of the Rag Man and know (and talk about) people in their community who are different, but still loving.

Lastly, I include my own book of self-understanding (Please Use This for Children and not for War and Guns, Blooming Twig Books, 2010), written as my mother was dying. How else would I process how my original home and landscape have changed, how my strong mother became weaker, how I am now that oldest generation? As Mother lay in a nursing home, against her will, I wrote a poem about a beautiful photo of herself as a young woman, framed it, read it to her and hung it on the wall. It was the last time I saw her smile.

I still see that smile as I read the poem. I still see the house that is now sold and torn down. But I can move on, because it is written down. I write to live at peace with myself. I encourage you as readers to start writing. You don’t need to show it to anyone. If you do, it will feel intimate, and vulnerable, but it may save your life.

Book Giveaway:
The winner of this giveaway may choose one these books:

Please Use This for Children and Not for War or Guns

Con-Versing With God

Feeling Verses for Children

A Poetry Workbook for Self-Discovery and Healing

Re-Versing Your Pain

Ballad of a Rag Man

Giveaway Details:
Open to US only
Ends 3/25/11

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