A Collective Poem: What is Healing?

Professor Tala Khanmalek’s Intro to Women’s Studies class defines healing in their own terms

by Tala Khanmalek, Ph.D.

The following poem was written collectively and collaboratively by students in Professor Tala Khanmalek’s Introduction to Women’s Studies course. It is a list poem that students spontaneously self-generated in the tenth week of class as they were discussing the U.S. medical system and what it means to be healthy or to undergo healing.

There is no single definition of healing. As the poem shows, healing is a personal and political process that can unfold in a variety of ways, which the class listed out on the board.

 “I was able to understand that it is okay to feel the way I do and see how others deal with their healing.” – Kimberly Cruz

“This exercise was an opportunity to reflect on how I heal or decide to heal from whatever is going on in my life,” said Kimberly Cruz, a junior communications major with a concentration in broadcast journalism. “I was able to understand that it is okay to feel the way I do and see how others deal with their healing. Healing is a process which can take different forms and I was able to see that visually through descriptions of my own words and my colleagues.”Together, students took it upon themselves to redefine healing in terms that speak directly to their own lived experiences.

The opening quote—“the sky is for everyone”— came directly from a student, A.O. The quote highlights the fact that everyone deserves the right as well as the resources to heal on their own terms.

“By focusing on each word expressed I felt how each word holds its own story, its own history — specifically chosen to reflect the spectrum of emotions that come with healing,” said Isis Jazmin Gomez, a junior English major. “Healing is an ongoing process that we can all explore and learn more about.”

Here is the poem written by Dr. Khanmalek’s WGST 302 class:

What is Healing?

“The sky is for everyone.” -A.O.

Forgiveness

freedom

Recovery

replenish

Let Go

acceptance

Crying

embracing

Validation

trying

Respect

change

Self-Love

process

Anger

multiple forms

Learning

loving

Difficult

growth

Letting out

without ego

Restoration

patience

Unique

panic attacks

Fear

long walks

Practice

eating

Shared experiences

that’s what healing is

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