Armed Services Art Partnership

This weekend I was fortunate to attend a poetry workshop led by Emily Pease at William & Mary. It has been over two years since I have been in the classroom as a student. But this day was special. It marked the beginning of a journey.  

I have known for some years now that language held a power to heal the mind and restore the soul. I believed that language could change lives, beginning with our own. I have seen the transformative affect poetry can have on the human person, I have seen people write their way out of darkness and into light.  

One day, I promised myself, I would help people write their stories. I would help them heal and live life through poetry; I believed this was not only possible but vital. 

I had the good fortune of meeting Sam Pressler, CEO and Founder of Armed Services Art Partnership which offers art programming to veterans or families of veterans. Wanting to get involved with this organization, I jumped at the opportunity to sit in on Ms. Pease's class. 

I wasn't sure what to expect. In hopes of leading a poetry class in the DC area, I wanted to see how it ran. I have had veterans in my composition classes, but I have never had a class of only vets. What happened should not have surprised me and yet it did. We weren't there as veterans or people who may or may not have experienced trauma. We were there as writers. We were their because we were language makers, dreamers, believers, and creators. I forgot about our differences as we read poem after poem. That is the beauty of poetry, it breaks down barriers and constructs its own world. In this way it teaches us about life. We are always refining ourselves, editing out the bad parts, rewriting our experiences, smoothing out awkward story lines. We hold our poems the way we hold ourselves, up to the light, so that as light hits the many facets, color spills out in all directions.  

If you are a veteran or a family member of a veteran please email Sam at or look up Armed Services Art Partnership.  

Barbara LisetteComment