Spring 2022: Writing Innovation Symposium Community-Generated Poetry Workshop

sticky notes of a poem in progress
A poem in progress

February 2022:  For Marquette University’s 2022 Writing Innovation Symposium and its theme of “writing it out” together, Melissa Kaplan and I presented a workshop titled “Empowered Anonymity + Creative Accountability: Community-Generated Poetry In Action” using materials created and gathered as part of the Poetry Project’s collaboration with LCC’s  Please Stay: A Call for Suicide Prevention and Awareness interdisciplinary project .

After honoring and sifting through anonymous student responses to the prompt “If depression were an animal, it would be a _______ because ______.” Jessica Edwards, Jenn Fishman, Rebekah Fowler, Jenni Moody, and Kristen Tetzlaff created the following poem.

The Beast

Deer run their whole life.

It has to fight, even hurt

itself in the process.

It can quietly take over your entire life;

you never know when its noise

will tear you to shreds.


Tigers sneak up and attack –

my head, like a lion –

you can still smile and suffer, grizzly bear,

like a panda because you would barely

be alive.


Like sharks, blood thirsty,

jellyfish sting as you swim in circles.

Octopus grab slowly draining your life,

they hide in deep waters, waiting.

You feel left behind, swimming

in your own thoughts with no way out.




murder of crows

angler fish

a panda






because it slowly grabs hold of you,

burrows, in the dark, cold, crushing lonely ocean.


Cats do not do, they lay;

black cat constantly circling you

it clings to and traps whatever it has.


Like a sad dog:

lots of damage in a small space.

It doesn’t communicate on the same


The last of its kind.


Like Lyme disease

like I was dying

from the inside out –

like Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh

it remains unseen

but not unknown.

The ravaging effects,

you would barely be alive.

Only those strong

enough to shake it off survive.

When was the last time you were happy?


A snake can come out of nowhere, always alone,

strangles, constricts, and slowly squeezes life out.


I am the loneliest animal on Earth,

suffering from isolation and

trapped, like I’m dying on the inside.


The world is constantly falling apart

through no fault of its own.


They continue coming back to get your things.


It won’t quit until you kill it yourself.

Why wait until darkness comes

to begin again?

the poem in sticky note and notepaper form
the poem in sticky note and notepaper form