creative therapeutic writing


If you find yourself here from some push of an ethernet button or icon, please do go to my new web-site:

There you’ll find all the information about my books – an exploration of my own personal process of writing, alongside an explanation of my approach. The books are a blend of the personal and a lot of suggested exercises: ideas for readers to explore and meet their own particular circumstances through writing.

There is also information about my Writing for Healing Workshops held in Sussex at the Cabin on the Hill. And 1-1 writing sessions which may be Face-to-Face, Skype or FaceTime.

I started this blog in October 2014 and have tailed off in the last year or so. There are many extracts from my books in these blogs – if you scroll through you’ll soon get a flavour of how I approach this genre of writing.

This kind of writing can be exacting and challenging. But I have found the process exhilarating, satisfying and ultimately more creative than any personal therapy (and I have done a lot during my life, as well as practice as a psychotherapist when I was younger).

These two books can be purchased

through the new web-site


Love and Loss - cover



© Monica Suswin 2018


creative therapeutic writing

The second mini-book in the series

Love and Loss - cover

Now Available

(still direct from me)


Very Soon the New Web-Site will be Up & Running

with a clever payment scheme

clicks of buttons


slightly more expense

(because of associated layers of costs with those procedures)


BUY NOW by contacting me at: monicasuswin [at]

(you’ll be able to use BACS, a cheque or PayPal)

LOVE & LOSS  £12  plus £2 postage in the UK

Outside the UK, I’ll let you know the cost



Love & Loss


A Fox Crossed My Path 


£20 plus £3 postage in the UK



A Fox Crossed My Path


£10 plus £2 p&p

monicasuswin [at]

for book sales and enquiries

Direct, honest and emotionally sensitive Love & Loss is a candid exploration and is alive with creative ideas for writers and workshop leaders of all kinds.                      Lisa Dart


For anyone with an interest in the therapeutic potential of expressive and creative writing, A Fox Crossed My Path is a find. I would suggest that for starting points in how creative writing can be a life-line when other options are limited, this book is a must-read.                                   Jeannie Wright


© Monica Suswin 2018




creative therapeutic writing

c58647f9d6b9e37e71384351c044412d--underwood-typewriter-writers-blockWould I go back to this?

Probably not. But any residual expectations that my computer will work smoothly, perfectly and continuously have been ditched.

The way our computers work is in constant flux … I must forget about perfection and stability, the expert young guy at Apple Technical Support tell me. Over the telephone he works patiently sharing my screen, directing me to click here and there until a stubborn locking mechanism unlocks and stays unlocked. I sigh in relief and gratitude. That sounds straightforward. It wasn’t, taking several long calls. The updates are necessary to beat the hackers intent on corrupting the smooth running of all these trillions of invisible connections that lead to how I tap away at my keyboard.

Wonderful that I have achieved a convoluted but workable method of accessing past drafts of documents. Retrievable, I am able to work on my mini-books. And regain some affection for my computer. And forget about hankering after a typewriter which wouldn’t give me instant access to this extraordinary world wide web of information that still amazes me.

Blogging has taken a lull during 2017. I’ve found there is just too much social media material, book-writing and real life to keep up with . . . Here though is an update:

Cabin on the Hill – Studio Retreat – Latest News
One aspect of these changes is that I have to abandon my much loved web-site. Apple no longer supports the technical back-up for continuing  Until I create a new web-site, a link should bring you to this WordPress site, which will in the meantime carry relevant information.


After five years of running the Cabin on the Hill as a studio retreat, I am now offering only the following kinds of stay:



24 hour cabin deal – this includes: writing session, supper and breakfast


4 or 5 night stay for writers


Writing for Healing Workshops

These small (no more than six participants) four hour workshops on a Saturday afternoon allow participants to find their own flow of words, discuss and explore a wide range of personal issues, and learn to express their creativity through writing.

Because we share our common humanity, time and again the synchronicity of themes fosters connections. Conversations may be about tricky relationships, loss of a loved one, death of parents, feeling ambivalent, feeling blocked, needing to own feelings, needing to find space to be creative. Tears may be shed, but there is often a surprising amount of laughter.

Just as important is the sitting around my kitchen table for a pot-luck tea-break with goodies which everyone brings to share.

Next Date: Saturday 25 November 2-6pm. (£35)

Dates for 2018

Saturday 20 January 2-6pm.

Saturday 3 March 2-6pm.

Creative Therapeutic Writing Series

** the second in this series of mini-books Creative Therapeutic Writing on Love & Loss is at the printers and will be available in the New Year.


For anyone with an interest in the therapeutic potential of expressive and creative writing, A Fox Crossed My Path is a find. Like spending time with a good novel or short story, this book leaves the reader changed, more aware of how people’s lives are, and this life in particular. I would suggest that for starting points in how creative writing can be a life-line when other options are limited, this book is a must-read.

Dr. Jeannie Wright –  Self & Society   October 2017


Crammed with practical approaches to the use of creative writing in relation to depression – its reality, its recurrence, its terrors and agonies – and by using her own story, Monica Suswin leads the reader and sufferer towards the possibility of recovery, enrichment, an integration of the ‘fox’ of illness with the self which functions in the world.

Rob Henley – Lapidus Journal Summer 2017








fox drawing by Olivia Haughton

BOOK ORDER direct from me: monicasuswin [at]

Cost: £10   as from: 12 March 2018   plus UK postage of £2.00

Overseas plus postage


creative therapeutic writing



creative therapeutic writing on a depressive illness

The boxes of mini-books arrived one rainy morning and I stashed them one by one inside the house. And for the whole weekend I didn’t even look at them. Three days later I started sending them out; became used to their presence as the finished thing. It’s a slim volume of 104 pages, easily fits into a handbag, rucksack, briefcase. The cover is laminated so it’s smooth to the touch. I’m surprised at how tactile the experience is of holding my own book.

A book in my hands – slip it into a slightly padded envelope: weigh, seal and stamp it. Walk to the end of the road and drop into the red post box.                                                               



Monica’s respect and love for this process has taken her into creativity which will inspire you to write too.                                                                                         Gillie Bolton


A Fox Crossed My Path is an unusual and compelling book and provides a bridge between the countries of Illness and Wellness. Defying categorization, this is a unique contribution to our understanding of what happens under cover of darkness.         Victoria Field

Cost: £10 with free p&p to UK addresses. Overseas will be plus postage. 

I have no clever merchandising scheme in place, nor Amazon arrangement (everyone asks). A good old-fashioned cheque or an internet banking transfer is how to purchase direct from me.


Fox Drawings by Olivia Haughton

Please make contact on: monicasuswin [at] and we’ll take it from there.


creative therapeutic writing

The Long Journey to Publication: one train ride at a time


What I love about this book is that it makes something positive out of the darkness that is depression. Monica Suswin writes movingly about how writing can make sense of mental illness. With characteristic generosity of spirit, she gives you the steps to give shape to your experience.

Rachel Kelly, bestselling author of Black Rainbow:
how words healed me – my journey through depression

Notebook: 14th June 2016
I had an ‘aha’ moment in the early summer on the train to London. I was mapping out my chapters and thoughts about self-publishing; perhaps my book would divide neatly into two books, not one as I’d always thought. Then a flash came: why not four?

Quickly I rejigged my thirteen chapters into four distinct themes. The mental illness writing, which had stretched to three chapters, would lift out and be the first mini-book; the second would be about love and loss. Those were the two big themes I’d written about. The third would tackle relationships within the family and in friendships. Certainly another big theme. And the fourth would cover writing companionship, spirituality and the hidden aspects of the psyche. Four mini-books of around 25,000 words each – half the length of a short book. Edited extracts have already appeared in these blogs but the books will put them into greater context with suggestions for reflective writing that readers can explore for themselves.

Since then everything has fallen into place: my editor, copy editor and proof reader.  One of my workshop participants, with 25 years of experience in printing, advised me on terminology and stages. I commissioned an author photograph. At a book launch of Annette Boehm’s The Knowledge Weapon, I liked her poems and book cover so much that it led me to the same printers: Short Run Press in Exeter.

Notebook: 4th October 2016
My iPad and keyboard are on the table; I’m typing while the fields and trees whizz past the window.

A buzzy meeting at Short Run Press. Mark Couch, one of the directors, talks me through paper quality, sizes in centimetres – though I am still an inch person – and matt and glossy cover finishes. He introduces me to Paul, the font man; we chat curlicued tails, squiggles, point spacing.

When it comes to the cover design, I’m told I can return and sit next to Paul as he takes me through gradations of colour and the size of the lettering on his screen. His computer will give more precise variation than my Pages or Word programmes. I’m far more involved in this process than I imagine any publisher would allow me. Far better a face-to-face meeting than exchanges screen-to-screen.

Downstairs Mark shows me around the clattering machines which fold large sections of paper into 16, produce colour, notch and cut edges, glue, and sew up seams. I expect to smell rubber when I see the huge cutting blades and the enclosed machine measuring out steaming hot glue. As a child I used to visit my father’s factory, which made outdoor clothing. I remember the smell of rubber solution used to waterproof the seams of garments and the installation of a new machine with a similar pattern-cutting blade to slice through thick layers of material, much like the pile of paper waiting to be cut through to size.

I ask Mark how much space 500 copies will take. He gets his tape measure out to gauge the probable width of the book’s spine and says ten boxes. I’ve heard of authors storing their books under the bed. This doesn’t appeal: I’ve got the material out of my head onto paper and screen, then into a book format. That’s the last place I want them to end up whilst I sleep. I want my books to find their way onto bookshelves and bed-side tables. Out there in the world.

Fonderie (Old French), the modern French word fondre and the English word foundry all have their derivation in the meaning: to melt or cast in metal. (OED)

Lettering, like language, has evolved over millennia. We are indebted to our human need to communicate. Archaeological evidence has unearthed graffiti on walls, the ancient world used hieroglyphics, sharp tools incised into stone, scratched into wax tablets. In medieval times monks used a quill pen and ink on parchment made from animal skins.

The sixteenth century invention of the printing press with movable letters cast in metal revolutionised how the written word was reproduced. Now in our age of electronic screens, every one of us with a computer screen has a pre-loaded choice of fonts: the lettering we use at our finger tips as we type.

My natural inclination is to the clear lines of sans serif: lettering without additional curves or marks added to the main body of the letter. I know I must be discerning with the choice of font but I have no experience in knowing what will be suitable for a book in the hand. At Short Run Press, Paul advises me and we pair up two fonts: serif and sans serif.

The main text uses Sabon, named after a sixteenth century print maker: Jacques Sabon from Frankfurt. This serif font was developed in the 1960s with a careful balance of weights for up and down strokes and finely detailed curves and tags to the main body of the letter. Jan Tischold, a German typographer, was a moderniser of classical fonts and had a big impact on British book design after the Second World War. His aim was clarity above beauty; Sabon is considered one of the most readable of book fonts, helping the eye move more easily through a line of text.

The contrasting sans serif font is Frutiger: originally designed in the seventies by a Swiss typographer, Adrian Frutiger. This typeface is regarded as one of the best choices for giving information and legibility and I liked it immediately – ideal for my exercises and informative boxes at the end of each chapter.

The whole book is sent off to Short Run Press. I have come to think of my iMac and its Pages formatting as technological hurdles and the only way to overcome its problems is patience. Naïvely I once thought our digital technology was sophisticated. I have come to realise the problems I experience are not my ineptness but glitches in the software after many trips for Apple lessons in Brighton and London. It is necessary to find my way around, not through, a maze of options to sort them out.

Paul required Word not Pages for typesetting. Not a problem, I simply export the documents to Word. Except doing this means the formatting always goes higgledy-piggledy. That is a disaster for the lay-out of poems let alone extracts of prose. Lines and spaces wander all over the place. I send a pdf document for reference. It takes many exchanges of samples for style and lay-out until we’re happy to go ahead with the whole book. Then it’s waiting time for the first soft proof – a copy in my hands to correct.

Notebook: 19th December 2016
It’s a dull December day with a blanket of grey over the countryside. I check my pencil marks on the soft proof copy. At the printing works, Paul and I go through the corrections. So much better to sit side by side and do this directly onto his screen. Well worth the journey.

I have ideas about the cover. I’ve not commissioned a designer. But Paul will be able to turn my ideas into a suitably professional cover. I want it simple and straightforward. I know how important the first impression of a cover is and I know Short Run Press are experienced in dealing with self-published authors.

My thoughts about white lettering on a charcoal grey background bleeding into a paler grey just didn’t work at all. Paul introduces some blue into the grey and he fiddles around with the colours until we end up with a blue-grey fading to pale blue-white at the bottom (the image above has not reproduced true to colour). A red fox leaps across the bottom of the page; we choose two deep blues for the title and my name above. I am satisfied. It fits the subject matter and size of the book and immediately tells the reader what the book is
about with a little mystery around the image of the fox: readers will find out how the fox turns into a metaphor.

Time to think over Christmas and inevitably find a few more corrections. The print run will be in January 2017. And soon I will be shifting those 500 copies from under my bed.


A Fox Crossed My Path
creative therapeutic writing on a depressive illness

published by Cabin Press
printed by Short Run Press

Available in January 2017
Contact me directly to order: monicasuswin [at]

A compelling invitation to use writing as a healing and therapeutic tool, based on the writer’s honest accounts of her recovery from psychiatric illness. We are taken beyond the horror to a sense of the power of writing both to transform and enable rebirth. Inspiring.

Robin Shohet, psychotherapist and author

A Fox Crossed My Path is an unusual and compelling book and provides a bridge between the countries of Illness and Wellness. Defying categorization, this is a unique contribution to our understanding of what happens under cover of darkness.

Victoria Field, writer and poetry therapist


Editor for the series of four mini-books: Dr Gillie Bolton, an authority in writing for the helping professions, academics and the lay reader. Her recent books include The Writer’s Key – an introduction to how writing can find creative solutions for life (Jessica Kingsley Publishers) & Inspirational Writing – addresses key phases for academics in their critical research process leading up to publication (Sage Publications).

Both books available from the publishers or Amazon             


ⓒ Monica Suswin December 2016


The Naked Author – A Guide to Self-publishing by Alison Baverstock. Bloomsbury (2011)

The Knowledge Weapon by Annette Boehm. Bare Fiction (2016)
(winner of the Bare Fiction Debut Poetry Collection 2015)

Just My Type – A Book About Fonts by Simon Garfield. Profile Books (2010)

Author Photograph by Daniel Regan –

Short Run Press: Litho & Digital Printers & Bookbinders –


Creative and Therapeutic Writing


I – as Your Writing – can only speak the truth of the moment. I know no more about the future than you do. The future is unknowable that is why it positions itself in a time not of the present or the past.

Those words settled a disturbance in me about how truth manifests itself through writing. More of my ‘critical’ meaning to come…

In June, I took part in a conference: Critical Voices 2016. 

Version 3

left to right: Graham Shaw, Antonia Attwood, myself, Daniel Regan, delegate from ‘Safe’

Medicine & The Arts

Critical Voices: careful or analytical evaluations to provide insights and conversation.

Artists, performers, erstwhile patients, health professionals and academics came together for the annual conference to discuss aspects of practice, humanity and healing. Critical Voices was held in Tunbridge Wells, Kent. My own contribution was a reading of prose and poems written about (but after) serious episodes of clinical depression.


Those of us presenting spoke from the stage in the Trinity Theatre, somewhat blinded by the lighting, to an audience sitting in tiers. I’m more used to the flat dimensions of a public and neutral space in a community centre, café or university.

The atmosphere was a bit theatrical which was thrilling. I shared the stage with film-maker, Antonia Attwood. It was a brilliant pairing because we had overlaps in our presentations and lives. Mine through words, hers through images. Both about serious mental illness.

Antonia’s films are evocative; the first one I looked at on her web-site really disturbed me. Six minutes long, it felt as if it was going on forever. She had collaborated with her mother (also a film-maker and diagnosed with bipolar mood affective disorder) to make a short film called Everest. A heap of household objects are piled on a bed – all in muted colours of greys, whites, yellows and black – with a rumbling sound track and crashing crescendos as these objects fall off the stack like an avalanche in slow motion. As a short film layered with symbolism Antonia creates a ‘feeling’ of mental illness.

She showed extracts from several films at the ‘Critical Voices’ event. Afterwards a conference delegate said she should have given the audience a warning – presumably as news presenters do about war scenes on television. The nature of Antonia’s work is to depict feelings about what it’s like to be mentally ill. Her films last for just a few minutes. Around five minutes…that’s all. It is a personal war zone after all for those of us who have suffered and have had to live in acute states of mental illness 24/7. It is an unbearable experience with not much let up, even in sleep which may be disrupted. This was an audience prepared by informative notes and a preparatory talk. Mental illness is disturbing and Antonia succeeds in disturbing her audience. That is the essence of her work.

In these blog posts I have written about my own severe depressions, included various styles of writing which have helped me integrate the experiences of my ill-self with my well-self. During a Q & A session, another audience member, working with severely ill patients, made a suggestion to those of us on the stage that we were privileged to use an art form to express ourselves. We had now been joined by photographer, Daniel Regan who had shown stills of abandoned psychiatric asylums.  Taken aback, we both talked about how these art forms contained the chaotic lived nightmare of being ill after recovery, not whilst in a state of incapacity.

The Truth & Lies of Writing

A series of Letters was one of the ways I wrote about my depressive illness long after the episodes I’d experienced in my twenties and forties. The Illness was personified; the replies naturally written by myself.

In my many years of wellness it felt impossible to believe I’d ever be ill again and in 2005 my writing predicted I’d never experience another serious illness. Yet two more illnesses came in 2007 and 2009 which knocked me over and under. That made me feel a deep criticism (this time the pejorative meaning) about my writing.

I had believed my own prediction. How naïve could I have been? How could I have treated this writing as an oracle? There are times when my writing feels magical – as if from an invisible unknowable entity coming through me. It didn’t, however, feel like wishful thinking.

The words were staring me in the face. Visible. Externalised. Evidence of a reality. But was it real, rational? No. It was about the future – also unknowable. But I wanted certainty about being well for the rest of my life. (This correspondence is lengthy and I’ve not included it in any of my blog posts.)

After the first set of Letters and Replies, I wrote a second series (2010) accusing my writing of having lied to me. The two sets of correspondence, written five years apart, have been pivotal to my writing and the presentations I’ve given on mental illness.

Here’s a couple of extracts from the later writing (2010). It’s clear, however, I was writing to both Writing and Illness. Illness is addressed directly:

You said emphatically and I quote your own words: I will not be visiting again. And you did. Not: why did you return? Because I know there is no satisfactory answer. Why did you allow me to write those words, those untrue words? Why when I trust you my Writing, did you lie to me? Writing as Liar. I didn’t expect that. I expected better of you.   Monica

By the end of the letter, I’m really addressing my writing. I followed with this piece in the Voice of my Writing:

I – as Your Writing – can only speak the truth of the moment. I know no more about the future than you do. The future is unknowable that is why it positions itself in a time not of the present or the past. It’s unpredictable by its very nature. I can only be true in the moment. It’s not a lie to make statements which are intentions expressed for the future. But the future cannot be pinned down. I’m not a liar in the present.

In hindsight it’s obvious that my writing can only be a reflection of my thoughts in the now of the present. I’ve always been lucky not to have an ongoing condition. When I’m ill I’m very ill. When I’m well I’m very well. Now, however, with a greater integration within my psyche I am more circumspect and humbled about my own vulnerability.

A Whole Self

It has taken me all my life – right past my mid-sixties – to integrate those terrible times into being a whole self. This performance in Tunbridge Wells was of a different quality from previous readings I’ve given. Here was an audience sitting in darkness whilst I was in the limelight. An inverse mirror from the ill experience of being in the darkness whilst the rest of the world is in the light. To be well and on a stage, to be heard by others, including those from the medical profession, to read aloud the words I had put onto the page – all of this gave me a sense of owning my particular power. Completed a feeling of acceptance and wellness.

I remember an occasion when I was in the Eastbourne hospital ward and a tabloid was lying on the table. I saw a piece about a best seller from an author who was part of my writing group. And here was I in the ‘world of the ill’ to quote Virginia Woolf. And my writing friend was in the ‘world of the well’ and becoming known for her historical novels. And all I was able to do was pace a hospital corridor (see poem: Hospital Corridor – March blog).

The stigma surrounding mental illness is finally falling away as more and more people are talking about their experiences – I have witnessed it change in my life-time. Although my parents would probably turn in their graves if they knew I had spoken in public – on a stage no less –about such matters as my own depressive illness.

At last I may rest on a metaphorical ledge from a long uphill climb of gathering all the strands of my life: the bad, the good, the private and personal – with the public acknowledgement of what my mother said (the illness) should never have happened. Life should be perfectly arranged like museum objects behind a glass case. Polished like the antiques in the house I grew up in. Manicured like their garden lawn. These physical structures probably sheltered them from the messiness of real life and also helped them cope with their daughter’s fall from grace.

Well the long and horrible illness did happen. Six times. And I have spoken about them publicly ever since I started this blog in the autumn of 2014. I may speak again. But I am done with writing anything more about them. I don’t like the word ‘closure’. Because I think nothing really ends. In my life I find new forms for what has been. I don’t make endings. I make new connections.


ⓒ Monica Suswin  July 2016

Antonia Attwood is a film-maker of still and moving images interpreting the phenomenology of mental illness.

Critical Voices is an event curated by Graham Shaw and part of a growing movement to understand medicine, illness and health, through insights from the arts. This year it was held on Saturday 11th June at the Trinity Theatre, Tunbridge Wells, Kent.

On Being Ill in The Moment and Other Essays by Virginia Woolf [1930] (1981) London: The Hogarth Press.

Extracts from my book ms – Chapter 10: The Truth & Lies of Writing


Creative and Therapeutic Writing

                     Overlaps, Links and Differences

Version 4

to create
to make something from nothing
therapeía – θεραπεία – treatment – Ancient Greek

Some while ago I asked myself this question: Where are the overlaps, the links and the differences in creative and therapeutic writing?

Within minutes my brain had gone fuzzy. I kept thinking of pieces that I’d written which answered both aspects. I couldn’t divide one from the other. And yet… I find myself arguing the case to define each.

I draw on literary styles and my writing often proves to be healing. I have long called my slant on writing: Creative Therapeutic Writing with no ‘and’ to separate the two adjectives. It is a phrase that means what it says. A ‘creatively therapeutic’ approach to writing. More so I feel than the inverted description of ‘therapeutically creative’. To me that infers a given therapeutic or healing intention for creative writing in the first instance. Whereas I find writing in itself is often (not always) a therapeutic activity, but I find it first and foremost creative.

When I turned my question on its head, I asked myself: what is the intention in my writing? Then I started to get lots of answers flooding into my mind. If there is any satisfactory answer, I think it has to lie with the writer and the intention of a particular piece. I might ask myself: Is this going to be a piece of prose? Am I writing for the sake of it?

Often in the beginning I may start with an outpouring of scribbles and go nowhere else. The piece may not have any intention at all. That perhaps is the therapeutic end of exploration. Other times I may redraft and edit until I have writing which is well-honed and has a clear form like a poem. A fully created piece.

Writing is an adventure into the unknown. In this blog I quote some words from a real adventurer: a mountaineer. I critique one of my poems which started as a free-write (therapeutic intention) and ended as a prose-poem (creatively worked). And thoughts follow on what my writing achieves therapeutically and creatively.

My Therapeutic Approach

A writer’s life is a highly vulnerable almost naked activity . . .  It is true to say that you are open to all the winds, some of them icy indeed. (Harold Pinter – Nobel Prize for Literature 2005)

In real icy and treacherous conditions, the Austrian mountaineer Heinrich Harrer (1913-2006) described how ‘true confidence’ and knowing himself with ‘unsparing clarity’ was vital when he climbed. He said: ‘Unless you cross inner lines, you cannot encounter great adventure.’

My writing helps me know and understand myself better – makes me more confident as well as, at times, more vulnerable. I write to know what I think, how I feel and how I might act in any given situation. If I cross my own ‘inner lines’ as a writer, I am down to my bare bones, inside my skin, my naked self clothed with words. This is what I know about those times:

I come up against the forces of myself
the rawness of myself
my desires and anxieties
my limitations and my expansiveness

My Creative Approach

But then I use my imagination to develop what I am writing. In this extract I draw on the metaphor of a rope to describe what my writing achieves. I show its therapeutic effect through expressing myself creatively with a range of images.

My rope writing has a very long reach; up to the heavens and down into the bottom of the well with a bucket to draw up surprise after surprise. It is the sort of rope that I twine and weave as I go through time. The strands hold the content and I travel on with less emotional baggage which unravels on the journey. I travel lighter. Emotions like fear, shame, and anxiety are shed and what is essentially mine is not lost. What is left after this shedding of cluttered up feelings is like a steel core through the centre of the rope, through the centre of myself.

My Approach in the Present to Past Experience

The following prose-poem was written in response to reading Selima Hill’s collection: Lou Lou. Her poems – with their extraordinary juxtapositions of different images – entered the world of psychiatric care that she had received when younger in hospital. She gave her bizarre but brilliant poems ordinary names like: Night-room, Day-room, Side-room, Corridor and so on.

Reading them brought up painful memories of my own time in an acute psychiatric ward. Many of those memories were of the corridor. There is a lot of action in a psychiatric ward’s corridor: patients pace up and down like animals in a cage, fights break out, patients are smartly walked in or out. Visitors come and then leave behind their relatives.

My first description was a free-write: no form, a string of words on the page. Later I turned that into a prose-poem. Here it is:

Hospital Corridor

hospital corridor

is where the tramp woman fingered the walls

                                       to find her way

hospital corridor

leads to everywhere I must go

hospital corridor

is where visitors come in and leave me behind

hospital corridor

is where they shouted my name from the medicine trolley

hospital corridor

echoes             my name

hospital corridor

is where I was frog-marched
for trying to use the office telephone
when the trolley phone had been out of order for days

hospital corridor

leads to the doors

they tell you are locked                                    they aren’t                               I can slip through

I didn’t run away     I returned   then they knew they were not locked

hospital corridor

is where I went when I was so out of myself that I needed those walls


I read this silently to myself before a Presentation and felt my stomach turn over. The poem became alive, recreated the scene from over twenty years ago. Even though I had felt sick I knew the writing worked; that is the price I pay as a writer willing to read my poems in public. The reward came when several people told me afterwards that it was their favourite.

The creative process began when I redrafted my free-write. I put in line-breaks and spaces to make the lines look like a corridor on the page. (WordPress is limited and this is as near an approximation to placing on the page as I can get.) I changed the tenses from past to present. And wherever I had put in a ‘you’, which tends to distance the experience from both writer and listener, I owned the phrases with the first person pronoun, my own ‘I’ Voice.

Redrafting my original free-write into a prose-poem meant I had taken those memories from out of my head onto the paper. Taking that expressive writing and editing as I have described gave a shape to the lived experience. The naked vulnerability of exposing that experience became clothed with words. This may sound paradoxical but I found this helped my inner vulnerability shift into the body of the poem. The whole process was both therapeutic and creative.

True Feelings

My writing draws on my life experiences with feelings in the moment and old ones from the past. I never planned in the beginning that Hospital Corridor would end up as a prose-poem. I just thought if Selima Hill is giving her poems titles like that, I’ll have a go and see what emerges for me in a free-write.

After one of my readings, a member of the audience asked me: When does a free write turn into something creative? My answer stressed that a free write wasn’t intended to be anything other than writing in a flow with no particular intention. Later I thought of a better answer:

When I take some gems of sentences from a free-write and begin crafting them into a piece I may redraft and edit into something that pleases me. Then I feel I have entered the creative phase.

To end this blog, I return to the rope metaphor. That free-write led on to another, and another, which in turn led to a chapter: Rope-Mates in my book ms.

This rope threaded with words serves me well; it is intertwined with stories from my own life and stories I find in my imagination. I have twined this rope, with my true feelings.

I draft and redraft probably more now than years ago. Every word matters. Every sentence needs to be in the right place. The question of whether writing is creative or therapeutic interests me but in the end I find it spurious. Each piece rests on its own merits depending on how it evolves and shapes up. That’s what the writing process is all about.

Have I said what I meant? Will you the reader understand what I am trying to get across? Will you the reader find my writing resonates with some of your lived experience, some of your feelings? Is that creative? I hope so. May it be therapeutic? I shrug my shoulders. Will I change how I name what I do? Not at the moment.


ⓒ Monica Suswin  March 2016


New terms keep popping up. I belong to Lapidus in the UK which currently calls itself: The Writing for Wellbeing Organisation. In its early days the phrase: Literary Arts in Personal Development was used.

The Metanoia Institute in London & Bristol calls their MSc Course: Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes thereby avoiding any claim to the more specific term of therapeutic writing. That means it may draw students and practitioners with a more literary disposition, as well as a wide variety of people from the caring professions.

Yet another – rather side-ways but aligned term – is Creative Non-Fiction. The University of East Anglia runs a course in Biography and Creative Non-Fiction – previously called Life-Writing, which includes memoir, other lives and any writing based on facts. Real life written with a literary style to reveal the narrative.

My WordPress Analytics shows that you my readers come from many parts of the world. I’d be really interested to know about your own experiences of writing within these definitions of creative and therapeutic or healing and wellbeing. Please do comment. I’ve not had one from abroad so far.


Seven Years in Tibet by Heinrich Harrer (1976) London: Hart-Davis, MacGibbon.

The White Spider – the classic account of the ascent of the Eiger by Heinrich Harrer (2005) [1959] p.21

Lou Lou by Selima Hill (2004). Northumberland: Bloodaxe Books.

“Harold Pinter: Nobel Lecture: Art, Truth & Politics”. accessed: 6 Aug 2012

Extracts from my book ms – Chapter 9: A Fox Crossed My Path & Chapter 12: Rope-Mates





Creative Therapeutic Writing

The Gift of Love and Writing       

Experimenting With Voice


If I look back over my life, I’ve probably fallen in love in every decade – from a schoolgirl crush in my teens to passionate love in the next thirty years or so until my fifties.

Love and its strangulations are the stuff of drama. It takes us to the theatre, to the cinema – or maybe nowadays to Netflix. It buries us in books. Writers grapple with their fictional characters and scenarios in their novels; write poems and plays. Because love and relationships are among the most important forces we address in one way or another.

Here I show various pieces I’ve worked on creatively and therapeutically. As my blogs are based on my own lived experiences, this one presents as much of a risk to me as writing about mental illness. But I speak from a place in the future – many years after these were written. That is why I’m able to share them.

One of the advantages of becoming older is to be able to look back over a long writing life. In recent years love and writing have become rather interwoven. I’ve found surprising insights I would never have discovered without my recurrent free-writes and experimental ways of expressive writing. I explored ways of writing during that rosy flush of romantic euphoria when love first lets itself be known. I wrote with Voices spanning different perspectives and expression: the Wise, the Naïve and the Lyrical.


First is my Wise Voice. This inner voice is not always easily heard so I have to listen very hard. But it is always one I trust. I find it when I’m very still. I described this aspect of the self through accessing the wisdom of King Solomon in an earlier blog on the Wise Self (see: Blog 9). In a way it feels like the Wise Voice speaks through me, beyond my emotions. It makes me feel grounded too. I’ve used Capital Letters with intent:

I have found myself doing the love thing in my writing. And it is held in writing not in the body. It gives me trust in what real love means for me, shows me how it exists, not through owning it as my particular love belonging to me to give – paradoxically of course it is mine – but knowing it exists of its own accord. Love just is. Love is a gift as Writing is a gift. Without Writing, I would be bereft. Without Love, I would be bereft.

That piece of writing showed me how, in the depths of loving someone else, I might discover a place not driven by ego and need. A new experience. Love comes in many configurations. Writing through tapping into my Wise Self helped me find a new form for loving. It taught me to respect the existence and feeling of love and to trust it as I trust my writing. I don’t know where it will lead me, I wrote but as with my writing I had to trust in the great unknown which is essentially the creative process. And by that I live.

THE NAÏVE (or Inner Child’s) VOICE

The next piece experiments with a Voice trying out the inner child’s viewpoint. No grown-up measured self here. Just straightforward language:

And it is a terrible thing if you want to say: I love you and the words are stuck and do not come out of the throat and it is like a ball of sunlight in the heart. If you say nothing the ball stays there. But then it wants to get its rays out and put the words on them. And if you can’t tell these words – the sunlight swirls around and can’t get out and makes the person uncomfortable with a lot of heat.

And if the words from the heart can’t find a way out through the voice they go round and round in the head all day long and all night long. You want to tell the person you love that I love you is what you want to say. But when the words get so close to the heart it is very scary.

I want to stop the going round of words in my head. I want to speak the words and if I can do that then maybe the fire of the sun will not get stuck inside my body and want to make me explode and the sun will shine its rays in the sky where it belongs.

Children don’t speak like this and very soon I called this my Naïve Voice. I found myself describing adult feelings with simplicity. I move around between the first and second person pronoun but the ‘I’ Voice is pretty emphatic; there is punctuation but with this voice it is tempting to use little and stick to the lower case too.

In circumstances where one / you / I might not want (or not be ready) to say three words with such potency, this voice abandons being sensible, abandons feeling reasonable, abandons being rational. It gives such a freely expressive approach.

Here’s an even younger insistent Voice. A two year old in an adult body:

2 yr old:  What I want I want and I want it now and for now and for always and immediately.

Adult Self:   You can’t have what you want.

2 yr old:  You pretend I don’t exist. I do. It’s because of you I can’t have what I want.

Adult Self:  Perhaps. Perhaps not. Anyway it’s good to have the wantings. Wantings are not bad. Just not always possible. A two year old can’t understand how grown ups think. What I really want is the cuddles.

2 year old:  I like cuddles and kisses. That’s what I want too.

And so the foot-stamping toddler was listened to and appeased. And the adult was free to write more lyrically.


Sweeping Leaves
The eight o’clock sun is warm on my shoulders as I sweep the path on three sides of our house. I sweep and scoop up the winter-curled oak leaves from underneath stones, the withered wisteria blooms which only last week were fresh in their pale mauve scents, bits of twigs, cut the nettles back.

I could sweep for the rest of my day, the rest of my life like the monks set to sweep whilst brains coil and recoil. I am sweeping and clearing all the days up to this one. They line up behind this morning ready and waiting to be swept – not away – not swept away – but here to be brushed down with all that has been.

Old loves too tightly entwined all prised off, fallen and tumbled through too many years. I have no idea how to do a new love which asks for its own truth ever since it surprised itself into existence. Let it breathe lightly in its own expansive way and find its own form as each day speaks and I listen to its voice.

As I swept the leaves I thought of zen monks in monastery gardens clearing the leaves in front of their huts, purposefully lifting an ordinary task to the level of meditative awareness and practice.

I discovered through my writing a refreshing insight which I hadn’t found in other relationships. One that meant Love was not to be owned; a real love survives on its own terms. It exists in its own right between two people, between friends or even sometimes momentarily in the passing of a complete stranger for a second or two.

Discovering this possibility that I needn’t own Love gave me an enormous freedom to explore these different expressive styles. Because I found new ways to write and experienced Love speaking through me, I released a feeling of loving everybody. That was the biggest surprise. And over time this love has grown in richness and fullness for life itself.

Here I’ve wanted to show how explorations with these different Voices have really transformed my feelings and understanding about Love. Matters of my own heart may be private, but experiences of how I have loved is pivotal to my writing. Not to be swept away with the leaves.

I’ve witnessed myself meeting many challenges with different kinds of loving relationships. Even if writing raises more questions than answers, it does the trick of settling me as I watch the page or screen generously accepting all my words and feelings. As a writer I spill my bleeding heart into my drafts but take the outpourings off the page (or screen) as poems or prose emerge from all my scribbling. Writing holds my passion, my creativity, my life. Fitting then, to end with one of my poems called: Love – in the week after Valentine’s Day.


The chrysalis hangs
over-winter by a silk thread on the branch
which spreads itself across the yellow-blaze-risen sky

It feeds from tiny arrows
shot from the deep secrets of the blood-red earth

It unfurls like a green veined leaf on a May morning
as the butterfly opens its darling wings


ⓒ Monica Suswin  February 2016

Poem & Prose from my book ms – Chapter 2: Butterfly


Creative Therapeutic Writing

Visible Vulnerability

Attachment-1Through the process of creative therapeutic writing I have uncovered and explored my own vulnerabilities. The physical act of writing makes visible what has been stored invisibly in my mind.

Below are two poems which nestled in the impulse to form words, rested embryonically – if you like – until each took shape on page, then screen.

This key theme of Visible Vulnerability emerged over a year of giving presentations of my work in different UK cities and counties: Cardiff, Norfolk, my own village in Sussex and at the end of this week a fourth in London.

Because my pieces were written around ten years ago I wasn’t feeling particularly vulnerable in advance about reading them to an audience. I was ready. The writing had definitely helped to integrate the experiences into my present life. Speaking in public and posting my blogs has given me a big step into the open. I feel it is great we are as a society acknowledging long-held taboo areas of life.

Yet wobbly responses came. In Norfolk I instigated a break because I felt a need to go out of the room and compose myself. There and in Cardiff I’d seen tears in the audience. That moved me too. I find the power of this kind of writing lives on the page and as I spoke my own words, they were still potent to touch me emotionally.

One relevant question posed:
how do I write about traumatic events without taking myself back into the original feelings of depression?
My answer:
I write only enough to name what has been without all the details. 
See some of the ways I write in this guest blog:

Becoming Visible

I first became visible in December 1948. My own beginning was a bungled birth with an inexperienced mid-wife and a mother who knew nothing of childbirth.


You never knew the way out for me.
Against the hard rock of your pubic bone,
I rammed and butted

hour after hour twisting and tearing
the membranes of your too narrow vagina.

You were pethidined out and the mid-wife
on her first ever shift made the mistake
of urging too soon, too many times: Push

And my naked baby self jutted stuck.
They called Doctor Clark back from the nineteenth hole
to clamp and remove me

It is true this is the story of my birth
just as you told me     just as you told me
this story stays as if I were there
aware of fighting my way out

into my life with the imprint of this birthing
played out like a hymen stretched between me and the world.


The following poem, I feel, is a celebration for this life (so far) that belongs to me.

Easter Sunday Blessing

I have stretched finger-tips far into darkness
Now with these two hands
May I give and may I receive
May I keep my feet on my own soil
And as I walk this earth alone
May I not fall over the edge
For we have known for some time
That this globe is round
May I walk its entire girth
And always find my own beginning


Staying Visible

I type this while world leaders are debating their responses to the barbaric destructive actions of men and women who are terrorising cities and countries with shootings, bombings and the slaughter of fellow human beings. Their incomprehensible and distorted mindsets allow them to murder and dehumanise the sacredness of others.

After the Paris attacks, my free-write told me all I can do is witness the stories of those affected by listening to those who escape with their lives. All writing is helpful to find out what I think and feel about the outer world as well as my inner one. That metaphorical hymen stretched between me and the world has been pierced. I belong in the world. My writing tells me so.

Over the next few months, I will be posting blogs around the theme of vulnerability. I don’t know which pieces I’ll choose but I look forward to making them visible.

ⓒ Monica Suswin November 2015

Next Presentation:
Creative & Therapeutic Writing – Links and Differences
The Poetry Cafe – Covent Garden, London WC2H 9BX
London Lapidus meets Saturday 28 November 2015

Starting at 2pm – the annual AGM for all Lapidus members (The Writing for Wellbeing Organisation)


If any group of writers would like to contact me about visiting to give a presentation (reading, discussion & writing) on any of my themes please get in touch.

Previous Presentations in 2015
The Truth & Lies of Writing – Lapidus Conference. Cardiff. Wales. (March)
Soul Works – Forest Row Festival. East Sussex. (September)
Visible Vulnerability –  Lapidus East Anglia. Wymondham. Norfolk. (October)


Creative Therapeutic Writing

                 Ouroborus                                                                                          3rd Century  (Greek)

The Wise Self

Wisdom is a combination of intelligence, experience and judgement

Visiting a friend for the last warm weekend of August, I asked her how she thought about wisdom. Her answer bypassed intelligence and after a moment’s pause she quietly said: ‘heart and intuition’.

Intuition and his ‘accursed human education’ exercised D. H. Lawrence when he wrote the long narrative poem: The Snake. On self-imposed exile in Italy -away from hostility towards him in England – he wrestled with this inner conflict. It is exactly the way he expresses the two sides of himself which draws me to this poem. When snakes have become the theme of my own poems, I’ve found what I can only call my wise voice from the depths. It makes me think that the archetypal energies of the snake seem to direct the writing towards wisdom.

It was the snake’s voice which spoke in the Garden of Eden – the first book of the Bible: Genesis. My own heritage rests within the Judaic-Christian culture. It may be disingenuous to consider the snake’s voice as a wise one since the creature was forever condemned to slither in the dust, after tempting Eve to eat the fruit from the forbidden tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Yet isn’t being both good and bad exactly the truth about our human lives? This schism is mirrored in the snake’s venom – extracts from its poisonous venom are able to be used medicinally for healing. A perfect holding of the duality: death and life.

Wisdom through the Animal Kingdom

For he seemed to me again like a king
Like a king in exile.

In the poem Snake, Lawrence described an event with a real snake but it also acts partly as metaphor (see: poem in its entirety at the end). Consistently through the stanzas, he traces the conflict within himself between his empathetic and instinctual feelings and ‘the voices of my accursed human education’ (kill the snake). That last learnt voice half-heartedly won out as he feebly threw a log at the snake whilst it disappeared down a hole.

This ‘mean act’ flipped him into regret – and at the same moment he saw the snake as ‘one of the lords of life’, finally elevating him to a state of majesty and making himself aware of his own ‘pettiness’. The inherent wisdom in the poem is the expression of both sides of Lawrence’s nature and conflict.

Expressing Duality

Because the snake sheds its old skin and there is a new one underneath, this has given rise to a further symbolism of renewal or rebirth. Thirty years ago, I wrote a poem called: Snake. My female snake, however, did not slake off her outer skin but revealed an inner pattern of vulnerability which melded with the nature of her outer force.

I wrote this poem so long ago I remember little of the circumstances, but something in me had found this wise voice to articulate the fusing of the old and the new. And I kept it hand-written in my files. I believe I was expressing the experience of merging my outer and inner selves in my mid-thirties: integrating my own power in a new way through my metaphorical snake. Here’s the snake’s voice in the last stanza:

I cleave my power amidst the ancient-wise and each new day
and that is what I need to do
and all I need to do


Recognition of a Wisdom

The snake is one of the world’s most potent symbols feeding into mythologies reaching far back into antiquity in continents as far apart as Africa, India and the Americas.


The serpent biting its own tail
dates back to ancient Egypt and Greece.
The eternal cycle of life is just another of the implicit meanings

There are times when a poem emerges and feels like a voice has come through containing more than you ever thought you were going to write about or had in your consciousness. The wise voice possibly. Here is such a poem:


Here is the golden snake on his way
along the bridge from eternity to now.

He comes from no beginning
He goes towards no end
When he rests he loops himself
until his mouth encloses his tail
and he sucks in time until it disappears

And there is no end and no beginning
and no separation of heaven from earth
when your eyes are open, watchful
for his sharp tongue, his sudden movement

As long as you know how to let your footsteps
tread along the bridge one foot after the other


Movement here goes into resting with the circular looped image of the snake’s agile body making time disappear. But the concept of eternity is hard to grasp and each of my poems dealt with time and space: the first aware of ‘each new day’ and the next – the treading of ‘one foot after the other’. After all that is how we perceive we go forward in life with a linear concept of time.

Defining Wisdom

Perhaps time to think how I might define wisdom. I took to some free-writing before reaching for the dictionary. The sentence at the top of this blog came at the end of much scribbling over two A4 sides in answer to these questions:

What is wisdom?
Am I wise?
Is so and so wise?
Is another so and so wise?
What is the difference between intelligence and wisdom?

Through answering my own questions (which could be applied I guess to any abstract human quality) I arrived at my succinct and short sentence. Then and only then did I look up my OED definition. I felt really pleased with what I found:

combination of experience and knowledge
with the ability to apply them judiciously 

Wisdom through a historical figure:
King Solomon – the Decision-Maker

King Solomon’s wisdom was praised in the Bible. Living in the land of the Hebrews, he reigned in the 10th century B.C.

And God said unto him….Because thou hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment…. Lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart. . .                (1 KINGS 3 v: 11-12)

A very dear friend talked to me frequently about her dilemma about moving house. She was a very good journalist and we always talked about writing. As I often do (whether friends are writers or not) I suggested doing some writing around her indecision. Why not imagine an Internal Decision Maker? I suggested she thought of a person dead or alive who was good at making decisions. Immediately she came up with King Solomon. Brilliant, I thought. An inner wise-self as decision-maker.

Because she loved the theatre, I thought she’d like to write a dramatic dialogue between herself and King Solomon about whether to move house or not. Always full of good writing ideas, I’m used to friends and family not following up my ideas. My friend was no exception and didn’t do the writing.

What we had no idea about was that within two years she would die. By default, it was certainly the best decision not to move house, to be near friends and familiarity. Maybe this without knowing why underlaid her uncertainty.

Nevertheless because I thought it would be a good exercise, I took the liberty of writing on her behalf. Here is the imaginary dialogue:

Indecisive Self:     I have a decision I don’t know how to think about at the moment. I am not ready to make it. Everyone is telling me it is my decision, and either way it is fine. A decision one way or another has to be made but there is no immediate urgency to make it. Only I’m unsure if it’s a good idea to do one thing or a bad idea to do the other. Everyone has said they will go along with my decision and it does affect the whole family. I am so unsure that I don’t even know what I want. I can’t even say: “ ‘No, I don’t want that’ or ‘Yes, I do want this.’ ”

King Solomon: If you do not make a decision, events and time will play themselves out. If you cannot make a decision, don’t make it. Life in the end will make it for you.

Sadly Life did make the decision. With hindsight maybe this was prescient. It was certainly the best decision. Even if she did not know why, my friend had an inherent wisdom and knew what she needed. When the time to go into the hospice came her friends were all nearby. By staying put she had intuitively known what she needed. Sometimes it is best not to do anything and see how time allows life to unfold.

Wisdom & Pettiness

An imaginary dialogue with another historical figure might fit the bill equally well; or some-one charismatic from contemporary life. Asking another friend her choice, she said Pallas Athene – the Greek Goddess of Wisdom. Socrates, through discussing language and the truth of names, in Plato’s Dialogues analysed her name as: ‘moral intelligence’ .

Lawrence drew out his own ambivalence through his long poem ending with that note of ‘pettiness’. Sometimes, I find myself expressing my own ‘pettiness’ vociferously with a momentary satisfaction of gloating bitchiness. The inner wise self has to put up with me not discounting my inner petty self too. I own both selves. Both are part of me.

King Solomon is quite straightforward and one dimensional. Do look up the story about his judgement to divide a living baby in half with his sword to settle a dispute between two mothers each claiming the child as their own.

The snake, however, has slithered through my text drawing me into its complexity and wily ways with so many different symbolic meanings I’ve had a tough time staying focussed on just a few. It may represent eternity as one of its many metaphorical meanings but time and space for blogging is limited and I already take a lot of both.

In my everyday life, I try to take each day as I plan it as well as experience what comes towards me. Being open to that awareness is the kind of wisdom I aim to live by.

Perhaps you have drawn on a creature from the land, sea or air to explore and articulate the wise part of yourself. Or maybe written in the voice of a person whether living or dead.

Please do make a comment.

ⓒ Monica Suswin

The Bible: Genesis (Chapter 3) & 1 Kings (Chapter 3 – verse: 11-12)
The Snake by D. H. Lawrence
The Dialogues of Plato (Cratylus – 407) translated by B. Jowlett. Oxford University Press (1892)
Extracts from my book ms: Erotic Alert (Chapt 3) & Shifting Boundaries (Chapt 5)


(further note: posting a poem in this format does not honour line breaks!)


A snake came to my water-trough
On a hot, hot day, and I in pyjamas for the heat,
To drink there.

In the deep, strange-scented shade of the great dark carob-tree
I came down the steps with my pitcher
And must wait, must stand and wait, for there he was at the trough
before me.

He reached down from a fissure in the earth-wall in the gloom
And trailed his yellow-brown slackness soft-bellied down, over the edge of the stone trough
And rested his throat upon the stone bottom,
And where the water had dripped from the tap, in a small clearness,
He sipped with his straight mouth,
Softly drank through his straight gums, into his slack long body,

Someone was before me at my water-trough,
And I, like a second comer, waiting.

He lifted his head from his drinking, as cattle do,
And looked at me vaguely, as drinking cattle do,
And flickered his two-forked tongue from his lips, and mused a moment,
And stooped and drank a little more,
Being earth-brown, earth-golden from the burning bowels of the earth
On the day of Sicilian July, with Etna smoking.
The voice of my education said to me
He must be killed,
For in Sicily the black, black snakes are innocent, the gold are venomous.

And voices in me said, If you were a man
You would take a stick and break him now, and finish him off.

But must I confess how I liked him,
How glad I was he had come like a guest in quiet, to drink at my water-trough
And depart peaceful, pacified, and thankless,
Into the burning bowels of this earth?

Was it cowardice, that I dared not kill him? Was it perversity, that I longed to talk to him? Was it humility, to feel so honoured?
I felt so honoured.

And yet those voices:
If you were not afraid, you would kill him!

And truly I was afraid, I was most afraid, But even so, honoured still more
That he should seek my hospitality
From out the dark door of the secret earth.

He drank enough
And lifted his head, dreamily, as one who has drunken,
And flickered his tongue like a forked night on the air, so black,
Seeming to lick his lips,
And looked around like a god, unseeing, into the air,
And slowly turned his head,
And slowly, very slowly, as if thrice adream,
Proceeded to draw his slow length curving round
And climb again the broken bank of my wall-face.

And as he put his head into that dreadful hole,
And as he slowly drew up, snake-easing his shoulders, and entered farther,
A sort of horror, a sort of protest against his withdrawing into that horrid black hole,
Deliberately going into the blackness, and slowly drawing himself after,
Overcame me now his back was turned.

I looked round, I put down my pitcher,
I picked up a clumsy log
And threw it at the water-trough with a clatter.

I think it did not hit him,
But suddenly that part of him that was left behind convulsed in undignified haste.
Writhed like lightning, and was gone
Into the black hole, the earth-lipped fissure in the wall-front,
At which, in the intense still noon, I stared with fascination.

And immediately I regretted it.
I thought how paltry, how vulgar, what a mean act!
I despised myself and the voices of my accursed human education.

And I thought of the albatross
And I wished he would come back, my snake.

For he seemed to me again like a king,
Like a king in exile, uncrowned in the underworld,
Now due to be crowned again.

And so, I missed my chance with one of the lords
Of life.
And I have something to expiate:
A pettiness.

D. H. Lawrence
Taormina, Sicily, Italy. 1923