EMDR Inspired Art and Poetry

A Meditation on Hope and Pain for Troubled Times

Poetry - General
210 Pages
Reviewed on 06/06/2022
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    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

EMDR Inspired Art and Poetry: A Meditation on Hope and Pain for Troubled Times is a collection of poetry themed around trauma and recovery. The works within are suitable for the general reading audience and were penned by author Mark Odland who also illustrated the text. The book is a reflection on the methods and successes of EMDR therapy, with poems looking at the world that has caused the patients to require therapy and the journeys of those in the healing process. Originally intended as an inspiration for and solidarity with fellow therapists and clients, the collection now stands as a body of work that is for everyone who is struggling.

This is a powerful collection of artistic expression both in terms of the compelling illustrative work and in the dynamic and potent written word. Trauma and the road to recovery from it are abstract ideas that different people have different experiences of, so to have created such a moving work that will resonate with so many people is an incredible accomplishment by Mark Odland. His understanding of the nuances of the subject and the diversity of experiences within it shine through in the imagery and emotions in each entry and turn this reflection on the EMDR therapeutic process into a celebration of those who have struggled with pain and found a way to survive. Overall, EMDR Inspired Art and Poetry is a stunning read that shines a light on a unifying but difficult to discuss human experience, opening the conversation for those who have experienced it and developing an understanding for those who have not.

Vincent Dublado

EMDR Inspired Art and Poetry: A Meditation on Hope and Pain for Troubled Times by Mark Odland is what the title suggests--an EMDR-inspired art and poetry collection that highlights the fusion of the author’s creative endeavors in poetry and visual art. His work pays tribute to a scientific work that has proven to be transformative to millions and his work resonates with the experiences, emotions, and ideas of those on the front lines of hope and healing. His poetry tells of stories of difficulties and transformation while his artworks stimulate a repatterning of our thinking and emotional reactions. Subconsciously, it explains exactly how and why Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) works through his art and poetry while offering hope and inspiration at the same time.

Mark Odland effectively pulls EMDR from an art-based therapeutic approach with his black and white illustrations and psychoanalytic verses. He makes EMDR as poetry become accessible as the nature of his written language evokes sensations of lived experience and stimulates readers to move toward healing. His verses are a treatment of language that makes readers adapt word processing to decrease negative emotions. As for his illustrations, these encourage bilateral stimulation together with his poetry, which makes this book powerful as a tool for meditation and healing. The short poem, It’s Time, for example, is about facing one’s fears, complemented with an illustration of a hand holding a glass ball that reflects a man who looks like a therapist. Odland’s view of poetry and art provides you with a fuller understanding of the therapeutic process of literature and art at the core of EMDR. This book is a relaxing piece of work, one that I strongly recommend as EMDR Inspired Art and Poetry promotes sensorial and imagistic potential for healing.

Viga Boland

“Perched in anticipation/He slumps into the couch cushions/Hoping to disappear like loose change.” The vision created by the stunning metaphor in those lines above immediately plunged me, captivated from word go, into Mark Odland’s book, EMDR Inspired Art and Poetry. Hungry for more, I tore through pages of poems and artwork that fired my imagination and moved my soul. I recognized myself as Odland wrote about a boy who “…could stop his life from crashing/If he’d only stop pretending.” Page after page I was awed by this talented poet and gifted artist whose sketches and drawings illustrated and further illuminated the meaning of each poem.

But what was also fascinating was that this book, initially designed to resonate with other practitioners of EMDR trauma therapy, was, as Odland rightly states, a “book for everyone” as we all feel pain and need healing. But there’s more! As one moves through the poems and artwork, there is a growing sense that this book is also part memoir and self-exploration: Odland writes of being distracted by thoughts of his sick child while attending an EMDR conference; of his misgivings about his skills as a poet, artist, and author i.e.“My mind feels hollow like/A carved out coconut shell… And he admits that inside he weeps, unable to suspend disbelief when seeing the horror on a patient’s face during therapy. How very human but brave of Odland to admit this to everyone, including his peers. No wonder he is so successful in his chosen career as an EMDR therapist.

I had heard of EMDR therapy, but Mark Odland’s book prompted me to find out more about it and how it works. There is a good deal of information online, and Odland’s website is well worth visiting. Odland’s book so inspired me I even watched a couple of YouTube videos about EMDR. But what I will most remember when I think of this book will be the poetry, its metaphorical imagery, its alluring alliteration, and above all, its truths: those bullets of enlightenment in powerful lines like this one from the poem Blocking Belief telling us that rejection is a “fast hardening cement.” A brilliant book for everyone, Mark Odland. Thanks for giving it to the world.

Erin Nicole Cochran

EMDR Inspired Art and Poetry by Mark Odland is a stirring collection of poetry and illustrations created through his life experiences as a human being and as an EMDR therapist. Black images splash like the darkest of ink against the bone white of the page/screen. Artwork that curls and jets into lines and hatch marks that make up the artistic illustrations that follow each poem create a feeling of fluidity. These images feel alive, as though every curve and line is another heartbeat. A handful of the poetry is in a rhyme scheme while others are more straightforward and free verse, but both variations instill an added depth to Mark Odland’s collection of EMDR Inspired Art and Poetry.

Mark Odland’s EMDR Inspired Art and Poetry conveys an instantaneous interest in EMDR therapy to anyone unfamiliar with it. How he blends his familial roles as father and husband with his work role as a therapist into the poems is captivating. They become more than poems, but a person telling part of their life’s journey in bits and pieces, line by line. There are so many of his poems that reach out and gather your mind up in a way that the brain hasn’t been touched before. One of the poems that really dug into me was on page 78, Maladaptively Stored, and the lines: “I feel the weight of it/This unexpected ancient thing/And it makes my spirit tired.” It embodies so much in such a small amount of space. And that’s what Mark Odland’s EMDR Inspired Art and Poetry is all about; it personifies life with its intricacies and meshes it with therapy.

Susan van der Walt

Mark Odland is an EMDR therapist and is involved in the training of therapists in the EMDR technique. EMDR Inspired Art and Poetry is his reflections of EMDR, how he sees himself as an EMDR therapist, his involvement in the training of others, and even experiencing this therapy himself. The poems deal with various themes, like a therapist's self-doubt and fear of failure, trauma, painful memories, denial during treatment, and the process of healing through EMDR. Mark Odland also meditates on the Covid-19 pandemic and the effect of social isolation. He draws an interesting comparison between the Coronavirus and humanity, concluding that it is the human soul that will let us triumph over adversity.

I enjoyed this collection of poems, EMDR Inspired Art and Poetry, not only for their depth of meaning but also the variety of formats and techniques Mark Odland uses to express his thoughts and emotions. The accompanying sketches enhance the message of each poem. Some of these illustrations are abstract, but all of them are very detailed. The one illustration that grabbed and held my attention is the drawing of the two eyes of a worried mother, accompanying the poem Miracle. Mark Odland manages to draw you in from the first poem, and you can't stop reading - but at the same time, you know each poem needs to be revisited many times to grasp its whole meaning. I also enjoyed the notes at the end, with explanations about the thoughts and feelings that led to the creation of the various poems and sketches.