Recovering From Irma Through Writing

*Post inspired by Mentor Text Wednesday at*

Writing is therapy for me. I understand that for some, writing is torture. Even so, sometimes it helps to put your emotions into writing. It allows you to reflect and recover.

This is a writing exercise to allow us to come together as a community as we recover from Hurricane Irma. What small moment about this hurricane experience impacted you most? What item or phrase will linger in your memories always as you recall this time?

We will use “The Taco Boat” by Al Ortolani as a mentor text for simplifying the sharing of the larger moment of Hurricane Irma. The poem appears below in its original form, and then you will see my version. Use these as a model to craft your own and share it here (in the comments) for others to see.

Some things to consider (as taken from

Poetic Form – It is more like a short paragraph that is arranged like a poem. This form has an emotional impact on the reader, and encourages a different consideration of the moment being presented.

Repetition — This poem makes use of the device of repetition. The phrase about his ship having come in is echoed throughout the piece. It is, however, not simply repeated verbatim as is often the case, but is remixed and restated, which serves to add to the tone of the poem.

Voice – As Ortolani recounts his purchase and eating of a dozen tacos, he repeats the idea that his boat had come in. As he plays with this cliché, we find ourselves wondering if he is being serious. Is he celebrating a windfall by buying tacos? Is the fact that he has a dozen tacos now the windfall? Is he pulling our leg by elevating this moment, or is that just me reading the poem as such?

Use this as a model for playing with tone. The phrase we choose to repeat, and how we repeat it has an impact. If we’re exploring a tiny moment, it might make sense to poke fun at the silliness of doing so so seriously. If we’re exploring moments of joy, regret or anger, we could use phrasing that communicates those as well.

I encourage you to dig deeper to find ways to explore your experience with Hurricane Irma more fully, and poetically. It might allow you to begin healing.


The Axe and The Sledgehammer

By Kelley Kaminsky

That afternoon, my father carried an axe and a sledgehammer into my home, not because he was planning a demolition remodeling project, but as a means of escaping Irma. She was headed right for us, you see, and instead of escaping her, we stayed. We insisted that our parents bunker down with us, as we live the most inland of the crew — far from the surge waters of Cape Coral and the beaches. And although we didn’t shutter up or board up, we were not projected to get the surge of 15 feet, even though, you know, she was headed right for us. We emptied out the contents of a windowless bathroom and closet, readying our bunkers for that moment when she, and her eye, were to arrive at our door. With the axe and the sledgehammer by our sides, we said things like “bust our way out,” “if the roof caves in,” and “we have a plan.” Sitting in the darkness, we waited, listening to our puppy snore in blissful ignorance as our minds raced with what might be, what could be, how will we…The eerie silence of the eye drew us out, relieved that our walls withstood the high winds and rains, relieved that our precious family members were safe, relieved to be out of the darkness, relieved that the axe and the sledgehammer sat, untouched, in the bunker, next to the lantern, away from our thoughts.


4 thoughts on “Recovering From Irma Through Writing

  1. I’m a single parent, and prepared for the storm.
    I went to publix, and bought things out of “norm.”
    Alone I put up shutters, and filled bottles of water.
    Filled up the tub, and took my last shower.
    Took in a little neighbor, she lives across the street.
    Didn’t want her alone, to be swept off her feet.
    Checked out my facebook, a message the laid.
    15 foot storm surge, coming there way.
    I had them come over, hadn’t seen them in years.
    But the thought of the surge, had me in tears.
    They brought 2 great big dogs, I’m glad they came too.
    No one left behind, it’s the right thing to do.
    We got a closet prepared, to all honker down.
    My little girl got concerned and started to frown.
    I had a life jacket out, for her to apply.
    An axe too was ready, it we had to go axe towards the sky.
    But soon the end came, which seemed like forever.
    We remained all above ground, we remained all together.
    We all formed a bond, that I know couldn’t end.
    It felt really good, to be a good friend.



  2. The Wait and The Weight

    The wait before The Storm is filled with so much anxiety and over analyzing.
    Watching “the cone” shift, wondering if you’ve gambled correctly and will be safe.
    The weight isn’t as noticeable during this wait but it is present; mentally, physically, emotionally under the surface of every decision.

    Then the wait is over and The Storm hits.

    The wait after The Storm is filled with gratitude, guilt and frustration.
    Thankful you survived.
    Guilty that your damage is less than others.
    Frustratedly wondering:
    When will we get power back?
    When will we get water?
    When will the monotony of our lives, which we once dreaded, return to us?

    The weight after The Storm is much heavier to carry.


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