At our February residency, we were graced by IMA Visiting Scholar Marianela Medrano-Marra, a Dominican writer and poet. Marianela holds a PhD in psychology and is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Certified Poetry Therapist. Her literary work has earned various awards including two fellowships: Connecticut Commission on the Arts (1995) and Center for The Divine Feminine at the Institute of
Transpersonal Psychology (2006). She currently works as a consultant and has a psychotherapy private practice in CT. Her poetry publications include: Oficio de Vivir (Buho,1986), Los Alegres Ojos de la Tristeza (Buho,1987), Regando Esencias/ The Scent of Waiting (Alcance,1998), Curada de Espantos (Torremozas, 2002) and Diosas de la Yuca (Torremozas, 2011).
Marianela’s workshops included “Embodied Writing: When the Body Expresses the Human Experience” and “Cross-Cultural Experiences: Writing from the Root.” In “Cross-Cultural Experiences: Writing from the Root,” Marianela led participants on a journey “…to integrate cultural diversity practice by learning to see through the eyes of ‘the other.’ They will relive their cross-cultural experiences via describing true-to-life depictions of their interactions with different cultures. Participants will receive an overview of ‘Writing from the Root,’ an approach to writing that invites us to write directly from the dirt dangling from our cultural roots. We will depart from Philip Cushman’s premise that ‘culture is not indigenous “clothing” that covers the universal human; rather it is an integral part of each individual’s psychological flesh and bones’.”
The Embodied Writing workshop connected with the cross-cultural writing workshop, helping participants ground their experiences from the roots of their heritage through their senses and lived experiences. As Marianela writes, “Embodied Writing, created by Professor Rosemarie Anderson of the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology in Palo Alto, CA, concerns itself with capturing the expression of human experience in a way that elicits ‘sympathetic resonance,’ or a natural response through which a reader ‘vibrates’ empathically with the writer when reading or listening to a written piece. Participants will be invited to enter the sacredness of silence and close communion with the body so they can find within, the language of the body. In other words, we will practice becoming the very things we are describing—e.g., writing as if we were joy in order to portray its texture, sound, flavor, scent and appearance. Embodied Writing requires the use of all five senses and the ability to retreat into silence and reel in what needs, perhaps, to be caught, digested, or let go.” Her workshop included seven elements of embodied writing as well as applications for this work.