“Give yourself a chance to be an artist again” is a statement that occurs early

in the book and by its end John Graham-Poole has given the reader a way to

carry out whatever plan came to mind when his/her eye was caught by the

cover, without excessive exhortation or the need to wade through

complicated medical or alternative-medical explanations. His “plan” is simple,

but not as simple and daunting as the usual one for this type of book - he

doesn’t just say, “Just do it!” but gives the reader a range of activities that

should prove helpful, and he does this through stories of others he’s has

known or known about who have gone through similar experiences.

The key elements in a successful episode of creative arts therapy are: giving

the client the idea to try it; giving him or her the motivation to begin; allowing

him or her to develop a plan; and then to continue through to carry out the

plan and benefit from the experience. John Graham-Poole scores high on all

of these elements here, and the book should work well as either a self-help

book or a book suggested by a doctor or a therapist.

The book itself is simply and attractively designed, from the cover which is

attractive without being “artistic” through layout, typography, and language.

This book is not overly scholarly but at the same time provides scientific

evidence with minimal but appropriate reference which justifies the statements

where they appear to require it. In other words, there is enough backing for

the words here, even enough for your doctor. While most arts or poetry

therapists would not learn much new here, they would also not have

much to quarrel with this book.

Graham-Poole, John, Illness and the Art of Creative Self-Expression.

Oakland, CA, New Harbinger Publications, 2000, foreword by Patch Adams.

206 pp., paperback, $13. New Harbinger Publications, 5674 Shattuck Ave.,

Oakland, CA 94609.

Back to art and poetry and...