Case study 3: Joan’s poem


I’ve chosen to tell you about this one because it’s one of my favourites, and a good example of when answering a questionnaire honestly, frankly and with your heart can really help me produce a wonderful poem for you.


The Challenge: This is the first poem I’d written for someone who had passed away.


I’ll admit I did a double take when I read the email asking me to write this Mother’s Day poem. Knowing Stephen as I do, I had to check that he meant it to be for his own mother, Joan, who died in 2001, and not his children’s mother, Ann – but he knew his mind. As usual.


I sent Stephen the questionnaire and waited with no small level of apprehension for his answers. I needn’t have worried at all.


At the moment I send questionnaires to clients as a word document, with the questions in bold and space to answer them underneath. Stephen is not the most technologically minded individual I know and when he typed his answers and the text came out in bold, he didn’t change it to differentiate from the questions themselves – apart from on one occasion. I asked him where he and Joan had found most joy in each other, and his response was in normal, non-bold type. The only non-bold type in the whole document. It looked small and delicate in comparison to the thick black lines surrounding it, and it simply said, “In the quiet.”


The poem wrote itself.


The Lesson: Don’t worry about what you’re saying or how you’re saying it, or even what it looks like. By answering it without checking yourself, you’ll tell me more than you think you ever could.