Responding to Voices in Wartime

Conducting a discussion and working through listening to multiple voices offer their impressions, concerns and feelings after viewing Voices in Wartime is one primary method for processing the film. However, there is another way of getting at individual feelings and then sharing them, and that is through writing. In fact, it is taking the essence of Voices in Wartime, the writing of poets through the ages, and responding to their lines through our own voices.

Writing Your Reactions

After viewing the film, allow a few minutes for silent reflection. Then begin to write. Allow random thoughts to make their way from your mind to the paper. If you don’t know how to start writing, then make yourself write: “I don’t know what to write, “over and over again. Eventually, other words will appear on your paper. Peter Elbow calls this free or raw writing. There should be no censorship to the writing. Don’t worry about spelling, punctuation or how the words are flowing. Your writing will find its own source of energy, power and voice. Set an amount of time to complete this phase of your writing. If it is a group exercise, five to seven minutes is good. With some groups, as much as 10-15 minutes can be given. If you are a person who will be facilitating this exercise, make certain that you write along with the group during the activity.

Lending Multiple Voices

One of the greatest values about writing is hearing the words that have been written. Again, Peter Elbow talked about hearing your own words out loud as giving you “the vicarious experience of being someone else.” However, more importantly, it takes what is in your heart and mind, and allows you to share it with others.  

If you are facilitating the group, ask the group to stop writing. Then ask someone to read their work. Remember that it takes a certain amount of courage to be the first to read, but once the first piece is read, others will follow. There is something about allowing the flow of hearing one person after another read. Asking questions or commenting in between each piece often breaks the rhythm. Don’t push people to read. Allowing silent time between readings, is just fine. After a short wait, asking if someone else wants to read will usually give courage to a reluctant participant. After all readings are complete, or after your allotted time has been met, discuss what you have heard. As a facilitator, your role is to relate the discussion back to the film. 

A logical step after having the discussion is to talk about next steps—what is it that people want to do in response to viewing the film. The section in this module, “Acting on the Film,” will provide you with multiple ideas to help lead the group to consider what can be done.

Note: Two good sources to review for learning more about the work of Peter Elbow are: http://www.wvu.edu/~lawfac/jelkins/writeshop/elbow.html and http://www.iupui.edu/~sharrin/5365/huang.htm.