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Edited and Published by Robert W. McDowell

June 22, 2023 Issue
PART 8 (June 19, 2023)

A FREE Weekly E-mail Newsletter Covering Theater, Dance, Music, and Film in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill/Carrboro Area of North Carolina Since April 2001.


Soldiers Will Dive into Storytelling in The Write to Heal Podcast

June Guralnick (left) and Tamara Kissane will conduct the interviews for The Write to Heal: Soldiers Deep Dive into Storytelling podcast

Are you compelled to write -- whether it be journals, poetry, or stories -- to help make sense of your life and the world? So begins a new, limited six-episode audio series, The Write to Heal: Soldiers Deep Dive into Storytelling. Produced by Artist Soapbox, interviews are conducted by Artist Soapbox producer and 2020 Piedmont Laureate Tamara Kissane and 2022 Raleigh Medal of Arts recipient, theater artist, and creative-writing teacher for veterans June Guralnick. They speak with life-changers -- people who champion creative writing as a catalyst for soldiers' healing, as well as soldiers whose lives have been radically transformed through story.

"When June approached me about partnering on a limited podcast series with a focus on the healing power of writing for veterans, I knew it was a great match," says Kissane. "Artist Soapbox advocates for the creative process in all we do, and believes strongly in the power of creativity to grow, connect, heal, and make the world a better place," Kissane adds.

"I passionately believe the connection between art and healing can be a path to a more balanced life for people -- and that's why I reached out to you," responds June Guralnick. "Soon after COVID struck, I started teaching creative writing to military members, initially in the Raleigh area through The Joel Fund's (TJF) Operation Art Program, and then, as a result of a TJF National Endowment for the Arts-Creative Forces grant, at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center," remarks Guralnick.

"Over the last year, the soldiers' writings had become so deep and revelatory -- and I could see change taking place in the individuals I was blessed to work with. It's extraordinary to be witness to a person's growth, self-understanding, and acceptance. I wanted to have a public conversation with at least a few of the folks I've worked with these past three years -- because there's so much we all can learn from the integration of writing into their daily lives," comments Guralnick.

Veterans' writing groups have emerged over the last few decades throughout the U.S.; and in a cathartic outpouring, soldiers are sharing powerful narratives, capturing life under fire and at home. Research has shown that expressive writing has the power to provide a path forward to healing for soldiers and their families as well as inspire community connection.

"Expressive writing ... has given me the ability to express myself in a positive way. As a veteran with PTSD and depression, this has been a life changing event," stated Bill Dixon, Vietnam War veteran and board chair of Vets to Vets.

Kissane's own family background resonates with Dixon's remarks. "My interest in this series was certainly shaped by my own experience and connections. My father is a Vietnam veteran. My sister works as a nurse in a veterans' hospital. So this topic is close to my heart," Kissane noted. "I hope that all people can see the benefit of writing to heal, regardless of their backgrounds or experiences," Kissane adds.

Bill Dixon will be interviewed for The Write to Heal podcast

The Write to Heal started to air weekly commencing on Flag Day, June 14th, in six, 30-minute episodes as follows:

STORIES SAVE US: The Write to Heal Episode 1 -- June 14th: Interview with former N.C. Poet Laureate Joseph Bathanti and Dr. Bruce Kelly, retired assistant chief of primary care at the Charles George VA Medical Center.

BIG GUNZ, SMALL BULLETS: The Write to Heal Episode 2 -- June 21st: Interview with Barbara Aragon, social worker with Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration's Tribal Training and Technical Assistance Center, and Pedro Reyes, Iraq veteran and Native American digital storyteller.

TRANSFORMING PAIN THROUGH ART: The Write to Heal Episode 3 -- June 28th: Interview with Brooke Dickhart, executive director of The Joel Fund, and Linda Giles, retired social worker with the Department of Social Work at Womack Army Medical Center.

OUR MINDS ARE STILL THERE: The Write to Heal Episode 4 -- July 5th: Interview with Gail Ashby Bryant (Army veteran 1975-81), Mark Bartholomew (Iraq Combat Medic veteran), and Bill Dixon (Vietnam veteran and board chair of Vets to Vets)

RESILIENCE IS A MUSCLE: The Write to Heal Episode 5 -- July 12th: Interview with Capt. Moira McGuire, former chief of the Arts in Health Program at the National Intrepid Center of Excellence, and Sarah Moore, community specialist for arts and health at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

LET OUR ANGELS SING: The Write to Heal Episode 6 - July 19th: Interview with the podcast co-producers June Guralnick and Tamara Kissane

Listeners can find episodes of The Write to Heal on all podcast platforms including Apple podcasts, Spotify, Google podcasts, and more. For more information about the series and upcoming episodes, call 919-493-7972, visit or e-mail [email protected].

Artist Soapbox (ASBX), which was established in 2017, is a podcast production studio, based in North Carolina, producing original scripted audio fiction and interview podcasts about the creative process.

Gail Ashby Bryant will be interviewed for The Write to Heal podcast

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