Upon Waking: Healing Through Poetry


Patrick Bruch

South social studies teacher Ms. Lanik shown with a copy of her book. “We can create a new normal - a new society where people who abuse are held accountable for their actions”, says Ms. Lanik.

Patrick Bruch, Staff Writer

Although many students and staff members alike may be unaware, one of South’s social studies teacher, namely Ms. Lanik, recently published a collection of poetry. This assemblage of poetry is called “Upon Waking: 58 Voices Speaking Out from the Shadow of Abuse”. It features 58 different poets from around Minnesota, and focuses on the strong emotions that stem from abuse, as well as the process of healing from abuse. According to Ms. Lanik, the concept of the book stemmed from a suggestion by the co-editor of the collection, Annette Jane Gagliardi. “She asked if I would be willing to work on a project like this with her and I said yes”, says Ms. Lanik.

Ms. Lanik is a social studies teacher at South, and one of her students has looked at the book. Eoin Irmiter, a student in Ms. Laniks HART class, had this to say “Her book is moving to read and really provoked emotion. I think it’s awesome a group of people could come together for such a poetic and powerful collaborative project.”

Originally, Ms. Lanik and Gagliardi were going to publish their book through a traditional publisher, but ran into problems. The first publisher they went with ended up going out of business before they were able to publish the book, and the second publisher they went with ended up trying to overcharge them. In the end, they decided to go with a self publishing company called bookmobile. Although they self published, they are supported by the League of Minnesota Poets. “Our fiscal sponsor is the League of Minnesota Poets… officially they are our publisher and our sponsor.”, says Ms. Lanik.

The collection is broken up into four sections, one discussing sexual abuse, one discussing physical abuse, one focusing on the after effects of abuse, and one focusing on the process of healing from abuse. While the collection was published and edited by Ms. Lanik and Gagliardi, it features poets from all across Minnesota. “We put out a contest during the League of Minnesota Poets, and we got lots of entries, so several of those entries were put in the book…we also put out… a request for poems and we read a lot of poems, like 300 or more, poems to come up with the poems that we put in here”, explained Ms. Lanik.

While the book is open to each readers interpretation, as all books and poems are, it was created with the purpose of de-stigmatizing abuse in mind, as well as helping survivors to heal. “… we’re in an era of me too right, and so that’s kind of why we thought it was the right time for this book… lots of people have been through this and it doesnt need to happen. People are afraid to talk about it… what we wanted to do was basically say look let’s talk about this, lets see if we can help bring it out into the open… we want to just have a conversation… for some this is not the right time for them to read this book, but for some it is the right time for healing… we want to continue the conversation, and to just make abuse less stigmatized.”, explained Ms. Lanik.

In addition to Ms. Lanik’s perspective, co-author Annette Gagliardi had this to say about the purposes for publishing the book, “I hope readers get a chance to talk about the impact of abuse… We can create a new normal – a new society where people who abuse are held accountable for their actions.”

In addition to all of these goals, Ms. Lanik and Gagliardi want to support people who may not have access to the book. “Every time we sell a book we will be able to donate the profit to women’s shelters and we also, our goal, is to put several of these copies at women’s shelters…”, Ms. Lanik explained.