Writing and Rewriting the Self


The poems below were written by participants in Writing and Rewriting the Self, a poetry-writing workshop for people in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. Specifically, they were written as part of the Day Reporting Program of Licking County, whose goal is to provide "a therapeutic alternative for offenders, as opposed to incarceration.” The poems are presented here anonymously not primarily to protect the identity of the writer, but rather to reflect that writing, like healing, takes place in community, with the active support of those who have gone through or are going through similar experiences. As such, the poems express the beauty, hope, anger, fear, and frustration of all people in recovery.    

For more information about the program, or if you have a short poem (under 300 words) that deals with contemporary social/political issues and would like it to be considered for the NTTP newsletter and this blog, please send your inquiries to D. B. Ruderman at ruderman.nttp@gmail.com. You can also visit him online at www.poetics-not-poetics.com.



There is a demon chained to a chair in my brain  

His name is dopamine, his goal is addiction 
He laughs while my skeleton is melting 

He grins when my soul is aflame 
He whispers sweet assurances that he is not to Blame  
He vows that he alone can ease the pain 

He urges me to pack it in and take the midnight train    
He scoffs when I refuse to play a part in his game 

There is a demon chained to a chair in my brain


Poetry Day

addiction kills slowly
talking first what you love the most
like putting it on a silver platter
and giving it to the host

my kids, my home, my feelings, my friends
in the end, it’s always the drugs that win

but now I’m sober and full of life
you won’t take this from me again

you’re the devil, I will no longer sin


just cuz

addiction’s a disease
in which some of us are perfectly broken
as one guy said

    some end up homeless…others in jail
    praying for a way just to make bail
    some wake up sick…sick as a dog
    others up for days without sawing a log

sobriety’s a dream
in which if we’re lucky
we don’t wake up dead.....

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  • Joshua Gingras