Poem on Mental Health and Post-Reading Activity to Facilitate with Students

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Our featured writer, Janet Kravetz who is an author and mental health advocate, wrote another lovely piece she graciously shared with us! She also included a debriefing activity you can do with your students. Check it out below and get the downloadable version. Scroll to the bottom for commentary from the author about the poem.

Also, while you do that, look out for more of Janet’s mental health advocacy work on her newly launched page!

New Bridges (earlier version)
By Janet Kravetz

All senses awake
While humanity sleeps,
The dials in the clock
Cannot catch up to her.
She’s looking forward,
And never looking down,
But she’s always mere steps
Above hungry lava.

Her body strung and alert,
running on the edge of earth,
In the fields of rolling silence,
Just before the wrath of thunder.
She feels much more alive
Than ever before,
More real than reality itself,
Sharper than the racing wind.

Her relentless leaps of faith
Between the tops of mountains,
Between the past and the future
Move tectonic plates closer together.
Her mind challenges the world
To speed up and catch up to her.
Her spirit builds new bridges
For humanity to safely cross.

Questions

  1. What is the meaning behind the title “New Bridges”?
  2. What are your thoughts about the woman in the poem?
  3. What does the “hungry lava” symbolize in the poem?

New Bridges (later version)
By Janet Kravetz

All senses awake
While humanity sleeps,
The dials in the clock
Cannot catch up to her.
She’s looking forward,
And never looking down,
But she’s always mere steps
Above hungry lava.

Her body strung and alert,
running on the edge of earth,
In the fields of rolling silence,
Just before the wrath of thunder.
She feels much more alive
Than ever before,
More real than reality itself,
Sharper than the racing wind.

Her relentless leaps of faith
Between the tops of mountains,
Between the past and the future
Move tectonic plates closer together.
Her mind challenges the world
To speed up and catch up to her.
Her spirit builds new bridges
For humanity to safely cross.

When she feels down, she climbs upward,
She runs forward in the speed of light,
But her untamed mind races faster,
So much faster than the speed of light,
Until one day she finally looks down,
Her eyes widen,
She runs on thin air,
…Runs on thin air.
…On thin air.
…Thin air.

Questions

  1. What is the meaning behind the title “New Bridges”?
  2. What are your thoughts about the woman in the poem?
  3. What does the “hungry lava” in the poem symbolize? What does it mean to “run on thin air” in the context of mental health?

Thank you again Janet for your collaboration! We love working with you.

More about the author:

Thin Air by Janet Kravetz

Somewhere in 2014 I had a profound realization. It all started when my book of poetry “Reaching Beyond Ourselves – Leading a Spiritual, Peaceful and Diverse World” just won an international book award. I was working in research and public policy at that time and I realized that the world cannot be spiritual, peaceful and diverse as long as climate change is threatening our peaceful future. Making a real impact through my future-writing seemed to take precedence over anything else. I knew I wanted to write something mind-provoking on this topic, a near-future sci-fi. I developed a new interest in sci-fi books and movies and especially in near future sci-fi. I tried to develop a female protagonist that is a force of nature in a world where nature is getting out of control. I wanted her to be strong. Fierce. Determined. A role-model. I wrote the poem “New Bridges,” while trying to describe that protagonist.

In Spring 2016 a group of four high school students from the 2015 Asper Human Rights and Holocaust Studies program all chose individually to present my poetry from “Reaching Beyond Ourselves” at the official Nova Scotia Holocaust memorial ceremony in Halifax. I was humbled. My book was making the intended impact, because their teacher let me know that the students were moved by the book. I realized I wanted my future writing to appeal to young adults too. I wanted to develop a realistic sci-fi-novel protagonist they could easily relate to. I wanted to write something entertaining but also educational to guide them on their path to making the world a better place in times of environmental crisis. I didn’t want a protagonist that was perfect, because no one is perfect. Sometimes we are heroes, fixing the world. Sometimes we are heroes, fixing our own worlds, trying to find balance in life. I wanted my readers to know that we all struggle at times. We are all rushing to get somewhere in life and sometimes are shocked to find out we’re simply “running on thin air.” The more ambitious and successful we are the more chances we’ll find that we’re spreading ourselves too thin. What matters eventually is what we do after we come to terms with our own vulnerabilities. Do we become kinder to ourselves? Do we take the time to stop everything and rest? Can we still hope to make a positive impact on the world?

Eventually I added the last stanza to the poem, which got me to rewrite the protagonist character in “Sky Curse.” The protagonist had to be someone who is painfully aware of her vulnerabilities and yet still makes a difference in the world. And so, Cecilia Miller came to be and my upcoming debut sci-fi novel “Sky Curse” started writing itself. I gave Cecilia a few realistic life struggles, but also some assistance from magic crystals. Cecilia suffers from social anxiety and alcohol dependency, among other things, yet she embarks on a profound awakening journey in her attempts to save Planet Earth. More about “Sky Curse”.