right, said tedHere I am with the inspiring Ted Bowman at a CWTP workshop last month, called ‘Follow the metaphor’. There were about 25 of us packed into a room over the Poetry Café in Soho, while Ted, an expert writer and facilitator in the art of stories and poetry for healing and wellbeing, helped us explore the importance of metaphor to ‘saying the unsayable’ and then ‘following’ whatever pathways it beckoned us down.

The word ‘metaphor’ is Greek for ‘carry over’, the words in a metaphor expressing one thing to represent another – the meaning is carried over. For example, ‘it’s raining cats and dogs’ lets everyone know it’s a ‘soft’ day, in Irish vernacular, but you’re unlikely to be fending off airborne cats and collies with your brolly (I reserve the right to point out that the brilliant disco hit It’s Raining Men is a matter for trades description, as well as hard hats). The word ‘metaphor’ even appears on the side of vans in Greece that transport or carry goods from one place to another.

But back to Ted’s workshop. Here’s my metaphor for grief:

A Lilo with a slow puncture, gashing the water with its acid-bright leer.

Don’t think it was all doom and gloom, though – far from it. Ted started by getting us to write the word stem, ‘poetry is…’, then describe it in metaphor. Here’s mine:

Poetry is a conker, new-shoot words sweetly malleable beneath spiky, yielding surface.

Ted then asked us to consider how writing in metaphor can help people who are undergoing profound change to think about themselves or the past differently, and move from change into transition.

Ted is based in Minnesota in the US, but he often comes over to the UK to give workshops. Find out more at www.bowmanted.com