John Fox

Charlie Fox from Boulevard Elementary School
Monday morning with John Fox in Shaker Heights, Ohio

These days he would have been called a “Tween”, past being a child, but not yet a teenager.  It’s the age when you discover that girls don’t have cooties, and that some of them can even make you feel tingly inside.  It was a simpler time, without todays distractions of video games or music television; when kids actually went places to do things.  When you grew up in Cleveland’s east side suburb of Shaker Heights, Thornton Park Ice Rink was one of those places to go; skating was one of those things to do.  Kids of all ages were drawn to the ice rink for fun, to socialize and just to be young.  It was there on  the ice that the not-yet-a-teenager saw a young girl skating.  As she glided and flowed across the ice the boy was putting together phases to glide across the page.  Painting a picture with words and capturing the experience, a poem is written, his first poem.

Keeping in touch with himself by keeping in touch with others
"I don't always do a good job understanding Facebook"

As young man his friends and classmates called him Charlie but is now known professionally as John Fox, Certified Poetry Therapist, Teacher, Author and Director of the Institute for Poetic Medicine.  The path from the first poem to directing the outreach of healing poetry is the result of John’s unique life experience.

“Growing up I had a problem with my right leg and ended up having seven surgeries on it between the ages four and eighteen.  I don’t know if I had the words for it then but I like the idea that writing poetry was an escape, catharsis and a connection for me.  Imagination is a wonderful thing, especially if you have to deal with a lot of physical pain.”

Ultimately, after his freshman year of college, John’s final surgery was a below-the-knee amputation of his right leg.  Through the recovery from that surgery John leaned heavily on his writing.  Gaining perspective and understanding of what happened and how he was going to move on, John began developing many of his own “healing writing” methods.

With a bachelor’s degree from Bard College, and under the tutelage of one of the leaders in poetry therapy, Joy Shieman, John learned to interact with poetry as a tool for healing.  With less emphasis on the academic assessment of writing, John focused on how to facilitate the connection of the life altering experiences of the people that he worked with.  Joy’s guidance allowed John to hone his techniques of experiential analysis, psychological counseling along with a balance between empathy and reasoning.  As a result, John became a Certified Poetry Therapist that travels to hospitals, hospices, prisons and everywhere physical or emotional healing is needed.

Director of The Institute for Poetic Medicine, John Fox
“Awakening the Soulfulness within the Human Voice”

With years of working with children and adults facing their own fears and concerns, John wrote his book Finding What You Didn’t Lose, (1995, Tarcher) a guide in the use of classical literary elements to communicate through poetry.  Following the success of his first book, John wrote his second book, Poetic Medicine: The Healing Art of Poem-Making, (1997, Tarcher), that examines how to give “birth” and nurture a poetic idea for its full expression.

To further the healing art of Poetry Therapy, John established the non-profit, The Institute for Poetic Medicine in 2005.  The Institute’s mission is to find, develop and fund those projects dedicated to using poetry to examine and find a connection with life changing events.  John continues to work on “Awakening the Soulfulness within the Human Voice” through fundraising for the institute and providing the much needed therapy to others.

Holding on to his Shaker Heights in his heart, John now resides in Northern California where work continues on another book, this time a collection of his poems.

Warm hands, warm heart
Standing, watching an ice skater, John Fox writes his 1st poem
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