When the voices start
and talk about something other
than what youíre doing, what happens?
They interfere with me, tell me to do the opposite
of what Iím trying to do.
I have to be especially careful of safety things,
have to watch to make myself put cigarettes out,
have to watch myself carefully,
canít stop watching.
Where do the voices come from?
How do they get in your head?
They aren't in my head.
They're outside my head.
If they were in my head,
theyíd be like the voices
in everyone elseís head.
I donít understand.
I thought you heard voices.
I do hear voices, Esther,
but the voices come from outside my head.
The voices inside my head are just like the voices
in everybody elseís head.
Esther Altshul Helfgott is an independent
scholar and poet. She holds a doctorate
in History from the University of
Washington, has published extensively
and has been teaching writing classes
and facilitating workshops for over
20 years. Shelter, as a practical
reality and as a metaphor for living
in community, is at the core of Esther's
thinking. She views the page as a
haven, not for the purpose of hiding,
but as a means of cultivating that
place within the self that works most
effectively to bring about real and
metaphorical shelter - regardless
of race, ethnicity, religion, gender
or sexual preference to all who live
among us -- the homeless, the mentally
ill, the disabled, the different,
the old. Her book-length poem, The
Homeless One, about homelessness and
schizophrenia, was published in January
2000 by KotaPress and has been performed
as a play.
Esther coordinates the
popular It's About Time
Writers' Reading Series
where beginning and experienced
writers and poets read from
their work. As a writer
and teacher, she views the
reading series as a shelter
for self-expression and
healing, a way to share
one's inner self (outside
a therapy room) with others,
a place where language-masons
maintain contact with each
other so they can contribute
to an on-going dialogue
for progress--and for peace
within the self and in the
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