Connoisseurs of Suffering: Poetry for the Journey to Meaning


Connoisseurs of Suffering: Poetry for the Journey to Meaning
by Jason Dias & Louis Hoffman




When the smoke and mirrors are put away, what is experienced as therapeutic is being truly understood by another soul bearing witness to our pain. In Jason Dias and Louis Hoffman’s new compilation of poetry, Connoisseurs of Suffering: Poetry for the Journey to Meaning, we are granted that blessing over and over and over again. What becomes all too clear on this journey through these poems is that poetic discourse is the sine qua non best practice for courageously attempting the impossible: giving words to the ineffable quality of suffering and the indestructible desire for someone to “get it.” Poetry is our only hope of doing so, and these poets do it! If you are hurting, this book will be a friend that will go to hell and back with you. Bravo!

Todd DuBose, PhD
Distinguished Full Professor
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology

Connoisseurs of Suffering: Poetry for the Journey to Meaning is an exquisite journey into the experience of suffering. This is a poignant, stirring collection. I found myself nodding “yes” while reading the poems and digesting others’ experiences, relating to them, and feeling less alone through the comfort of their words. Other times, tears came to my eyes both in remembering my own losses and my own pain, as well as finding the joy inherent in the confrontation of it. This is a book for those of us who believe that relief isn’t about avoiding suffering, but rather finding meaning in our experience of it. Joy can only be experienced if we are first able to embrace our pain. This is a beautiful collection—haunting, affecting, brilliant, and true. Suffering has meaning if we know how to find it.

Jacqueline Simon Gunn, PsyD
Clinical Psychologist and Author

Table of Contents

Foreword by David N. Elkins
Introduction: Learning to Savor the Flavors of Suffering


The Immensity by Carole Stedronsky
Carry My Tears by Gina Belton
A Father’s Invitation: A Sestina by Caroline Johnson
When They Bring the News by Jennifer Highland
After Anbar Province by Christopher Woods
The Names Quilt by Rosanna Radding
17 by LeesaMaree Bleicher
Vicodin by Sarah Gajkowski-Hill
Advice from Alice on the Attainment of Wonderland by Marta Ferguson
Faith by Maria Terrone
Broken Keys, Reforged Strings by Sophie Paulette Jupillat
You Are Not My Mother by F.I. Goldhaber
Lullaby by Carole Stedronsky
Starting Over by Marta Ferguson
She Used to be Many Things by Deborah Mashibini-Prior
Amputation by Sarah Gajkowski-Hill
Bessie Arrowood’s Circle of Life by Karen Paul Holmes
Sisters by Rona Dale Schenkerman
Burned by Karen Paul Holmes
Childhood Call by Kathy O’Fallon
Dear Denise Duhamel by Iris Jamahl Dunkle
Calling on Faith by Stephen Mead
Client by Kathy O’Fallon
Dad by Jason Dias
Christmas Card by Carol Barrett
Compared to This by Jyl Anais Ion
Embrace It by Nesreen Frost
Complicit by Louis Hoffman
Beyond Eulogy by Stephen Mead
Echocardiogram by Karen Paul Holmes
Enlightenment by Dan Hocoy
Fiftieth Anniversary by Sharon L. Charde
Fifty Years After by Maria Terrone
Fog by Nesreen Frost
Catching a Connection by Carrie Pate
Fire Inside by Jyl Anais Ion
Firing Loud Noises by Eva M. Schlesinger
Vintage by Sharon L. Charde
Frida Kahlo Prepares an Altar for Día de los Inocentes by Susan J. Erickson
From a Burn Unit by Stephen Mead
Given Fire, Given Water by Susan J. Erickson
Golden Gate by Lynn Domina
Gratuity by Carolyn Martin
Goodbye by Jason Dias
Her Boots by Patricia A. Nugent
Hearts by Jason Dias
Her New Room by Carl “Papa” Palmer
Hollow Stems by Sally Bliumis-Dunn
Honeymoon Faith by Melissa Hobbs
Hour of Exchange by Carol Barrett
I Am the History That I Will Never Be by Anne YJ Hsu
I Am Part Wolf by Eva M. Schlesinger
I Don’t Fall Down by Emily Lasinsky
I Wonder Why by Marlee Kongthong
Night Sounds by Diana Raab
The Origin of Dementia by Carol Barrett
Goodnight My Pain by Nathaniel Granger, Jr.
I’m Still Here by SuzAnne C. Cole
With These Words by Maria Terrone
In This Remote Forest… 1939‒1945 by Gail Eisenhart
Isolation by Jyl Anais Ion
Joke by Nesreen Frost
Lamentations by John C. Mannone
Jealousy by Anne Harding Woodworth
Late Visions by Lynn Domina
Latex Touch by Stephen Mead
Grey by Carole Stedronsky
Memorial by Carol Barrett
Night Rising by Margo Taft Stever
Madrone by Amy Rutten
Night Scene by Sharon Scholl
One Month Since by Carolyn Martin
Teaching by Example by Jeremy Cantor
Pequod by Paul Seelenfreund
Dear Heart by Iris Jamahl Dunkle
Perception by Nesreen Frost
Golden Lilies by Caroline Johnson
Scheduling Death by Louis Hoffman
Letter to St. John Liccio by Marcella Remund
Purpose in Pain by Joseph Ellison Brockway
In the Therapy Room by Carole Stedronsky
Steadfast by Debbie Theiss
Ash by Sharon Scholl
Surviving on Hope by Joseph Ellison Brockway
The Break by LeesaMaree Bleicher
The Christmas Jar by John Lyhne
Tombs by SuzAnne C. Cole
Walking by Richard Bargdill
The Ship We Build by John Lyhne
This Morning by Sharon L. Charde
Trail Blazing by Carol Barrett
Twice Now by Mary C. McCarthy
Vessel by Emily Vieweg
Vigil by Kathy O’Fallon
The Black Hat by Jon Vreeland
Afterward by Mary C. McCarthy
Wounds by Toti O’Brien
Faded Chinese Ballroom by Jason Dias
This is the Best Way I Can Explain It to You by Katie Quarles
At the Crematorium by Carole Stedronsky
New Life by Darya L. Zabelina
Shaking the Ground Loose by Roberta Bisgyer
To Be Free

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