Patrice VecchioneColumnists Literature Reviews 

My Shouting, Shattered, Whispering Voice: A Guide to Writing Poetry and Speaking Your Truth

By Julie Horner

In your silence you are able to listen, not only to yourself but to the world around you. Your silence will not protect you. Local author, poet, artist, and teacher Patrice Vecchione says she started writing to make herself real. Like so many, growing up was tumultuous. “Drunk or sober, raging or calm, the house was shifting on a regular basis. I began writing as a way to say ‘I know what is real.’ Writing helps us to clarify. When you put words down on paper, you find that you know more than you thought you knew. It’s very healing.”

Writing, she says, might save your life. “Writing will give people insight that they won’t get any other way. It’s a way to taste life twice. To serve as a witness. To make us more empathetic, an essential thing right now. It’s a way to calm the nervous system. Just keeping a simple journal, writing what you’re thinking and feeling every morning, is an enormous tool for healing.”

Vecchione, now a resident of Monterey, came to Santa Cruz when she was 11 and lived there for 30 years. She taught creative writing at Gault Elementary with an emphasis on making writing accessible to kids through high school age. She guided poetry workshops at Gault and made a career as a traveling poet. She has penned a dozen books about poetry written especially for young adults yet enjoyed by mature readers because her books speak to their younger selves, “to the part that always wanted to write but life took them off in a different direction.”

My Shouting, Shattered, Whispering Voice: A Guide to Writing Poetry and Speaking Your Truth is unique in its approach. It encourages teens to find their voices, to articulate what matters to them most—both personally and politically—whether it be boldly to an outside audience or just privately for themselves. “There are lots of guides to writing poetry, but mine is comprehensive in terms of looking at the invisible aspects of the writing process all the way to getting your work into the world.” The book is divided into five evocative sections that break down how to find yourself on paper, touch upon the art of listening, fear, “and how to ease it a little,” and making your words stick to the page. Writing poetry, she suggests, is like building a fire. “You begin with news and scraps of experience, what others ignore…you add twig words, strike the match to the page, and light it up with imagination’s fuel, creating another alchemy—your way of getting the chill out and feeding yourself creatively and spiritually.

Evoking Emily Dickenson’s famous poem, I Dwell in Possibility, which exalts freedom of expression and speaks to the positive attributes of creativity and observation, Vecchione says,

“It’s really my goal to be encouraging to people interested in writing. The timing couldn’t be better. I feel hopeless some days, on other days I feel terrified. Some days I ignore it all. Then I come to a place of resilience. We’ve come to a ‘Jesus’ point where we really have a choice as a country and as a world to take care of each other, treat each other with respect, and respect Mother Earth and the environment.”

Vecchione encourages people to buy local and purchase the book from Bookshop Santa Cruz. The author talks about her book at Bookshop via Crowdcast on July 21 at 7:00 pm. The link is

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