Nicole Eugene will host a free panel discussion and poetry workshop on Nov. 12 for individuals and veterans with hidden disabilities. (photo provided)
Nicole Eugene will host a free panel discussion and poetry workshop on Nov. 12 for individuals and veterans with hidden disabilities. (photo provided)

Student Conducts “Hidden Poetry” Workshop for Veterans, Public

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The day after Veterans Day, Nicole Eugene, a doctoral candidate in the School of Communication Studies, will host a free workshop titled “Hidden Poetry: How does poetry help people who carry the hidden wounds of war and trauma?”

The event will center around a panel discussion and poetry workshop aimed at examining how individuals with hidden disabilities (such as post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, prosthesis, and other hidden wounds of war) can utilize poetry as a creative outlet for healing.

Individuals and veterans with hidden disabilities often silently cope with physical, psychological, or spiritual wounds that aren’t visually obvious to others. “Hidden Poetry” was designed to provide a safe space for individuals to better understand the life of one who has a hidden disability, and to offer a creative outlet for managing disability and health.

All are welcome to attend this event – whether they are veterans or not – for an evening of compelling discussion, questions, stories, and conversation.

“There definitely is support for the healing power of writing,” said Eugene. “Poetry is shorter than having to write essays and journal entries and other kinds of therapeutic writing practices. Poetry allows people to have a kind of freedom that those other mediums may not provide. So yes, I really like poetry in terms of how it can help an individual find their words.”

“Hidden Poetry” will begin with a panel and discussion at 6 p.m. in Baker Theatre, where four humanities scholars will share what they have learned about how poetry affects veterans and people who have experienced trauma.

Following the discussion at 8 p.m. in Baker Center Room 242, a special poetry workshop, open to veterans only, will take place, allowing veterans to learn how to use poetry to reflect and communicate the experiences they carry. The poetry workshop will also include a discussion about bridging non-veteran and veteran culture. The veteran poetry workshop has limited seating, so an RSVP is encouraged by emailing

In a large part, Eugene was inspired to create this project from her relationship and past experiences with her father, who is also a veteran.

“This past summer when I was preparing the project proposal I talked to my dad about his time in the military, because he didn’t ever talk to us about it when we were kids,” said Eugene. “He went to Germany, before the fighting in Vietnam had escalated to the full war, as a medical assistant. When he came back to the United States it was the height of the anti-Vietnam protests and demonstrations and it had gotten to the point where veterans were being assaulted. If you had a uniform on or wore your boots out, you could be assaulted for that. People were so upset about the war and they were taking it out on the veterans. For the most part, nobody wanted to hear about Germany, nobody wanted to hear about what was going on, the tension and the issues were just too political and too charged. So this part of his life, and this is the case with a lot of veterans, it gets buried and put away someplace.

So when he came back he just dealt with the adjustment silently.”

Overall Eugene is hoping to be able to open up the doors for conversation with veterans and their experiences. She understands that many people relate veterans to what they see on TV, the movies and the news, but that isn’t always a true representation of a veteran or his or her experience.

“There are a lot of opportunities to misunderstand veterans, but the humanities perspective is different,” said Eugene. “The humanities perspective is about looking at lives and experiences to gain understanding, not to further a particular agenda or issue. The project, the proposal, and the workshop is rooted in that realization that as a culture we can help create an environment where people know and understand veterans better. By doing events, by making things public, by saying “That these are things that veterans deal with”, “This is what war is like” and aiding them with tools that will help people understand it, we can help.”

As a doctoral student in the health communication track Eugene spends the majority of her time doing research and writing. In her studies she has found ways to connect her research to collaboration and outreach on-campus.

“Ohio University actually has a large base of veterans, both current, past, and children of military families and I wanted to connect with them,” said Eugene. “I wanted to be able to create spaces and opportunities for people that have hidden disabilities to not feel weird. So it’s not just a space for people with hidden disabilities, but it’s for people who also know someone who has to deal with this. A space where they are allowed to be and learn without having to decide to come out or identify as someone with a hidden disability, because you shouldn’t have to ask people to make themselves vulnerable to help them. I want to make sure people recognize the need for a space like this and that we have a basic understanding of what veterans are like that isn’t based off of misunderstanding.”

Panel and Workshop facilitators:

Panelist Roger Thompson is an associate professor at Stony Brook University and has taught at the Virginia Military Institute for 14 years as a professor of English and Fine Arts. Thompson’s research bridges the traditional disciplinary gaps between rhetoric, literature, and writing studies. Recipient of a Harvard University fellowship for pursuing cross-disciplinary research, Thompson is currently a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University, New York. Thompson is an award-winning nonfiction writer whose scholarly and nonfiction work has appeared in numerous academic and non-academic journals. The co-author of “Beyond Duty: Life on the Frontline of Iraq”, a bestselling Iraq War memoir, Thompson’s work has been translated into several languages and covered by major media outlets, including The New York Times, CNN, the CBC, and NPR. Learn more about him at

Panelist Jason Hoppe is an assistant professor of English at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. Hoppe is the author of an award-winning article on the relationship of Emily Dickinson and Colonel Thomas Wentworth Higginson and has written widely about subjectivity and war in the poetry of Herman Melville and Gwendolyn Brooks. As the director of the West Point Writing Center, Hoppe has been able to develop a summer writing seminar that gives special attention to the therapeutic power of narrative and poetry for veterans.

Panelist and Co-Workshop Facilitator Becca Lachman has taught Poetry and War classes at Ohio University in recent years. An award-winning poet and writer, Lachman’s work has been featured in On Being (American Public Media blog), The Whistling Fire, and The Mennonite Center for Writing Online. Lachman’s research focuses on storytelling, the Mennonite community, gender studies, and poetry. She is the author of A Ritual to Read Together: Poems in Conversation with William Stafford, and two other collections of poetry. Lachman will help facilitate the workshop and be on the panel. Learn more about her at

Panelist David Adams is an associate professor and Honors Director of English at Ohio State University at Lima. Adams is currently working on a book that examines the intersections of queer theory and disability studies. A former Fulbright fellowship recipient, Adams also has experience teaching at Cornell University. Adams’s research focuses on twentieth-century British and postcolonial literature, literary theory, and cultural studies. He is the author of Colonial Odysseys: Empire and Epic in the Modernist Novel, as well as various articles and translations.

Co-Workshop Facilitator Darrel Alejandro Holnes has an MFA in poetry from the University of Michigan. His poetry has been published in a number of journals and magazines including Poetry Magazine, The Stockholm Review of Literature, and The Prague Revue. Holnes’ work and activism have been featured in TIME magazine. He has been honored with US Congressional Recognition for high standards of excellence and outstanding achievement in civics and the arts. He currently teaches at Rutgers University and New York University. As the workshop facilitator, Holnes will collaborate with panelists to engage in a workshop that builds on the issues discussed by the panelists. Learn more at


The two free programs on Thu., Nov. 12 will focus on the intersection of poetry, veterans, and hidden disabilities.

Panel and Discussion

6-7:30 p.m.

Ohio University Baker Center, Baker Center Theatre

A panel discussion of how poetry helps people who carry the hidden wounds of war and trauma. Four established humanities scholars have been invited to share what they have learned about how poetry affects veterans and people who have experienced trauma. Panelists include: West Point Professor of English Jason Hoppe, Veteran Studies scholar Rodger Thompson, OSU Professor David Adams, and Ohio University Poetry and War scholar Becca Lachman.

Refreshments will be available between sessions.

Veteran Poetry Workshop

8-9:30 p.m.

Ohio University Baker Center, Room 242

A veterans-only poetry workshop facilitated by Darrel Alejandro Holnes and Becca Lachman. We encourage workshop participants to RSVP at because space is limited. During the workshop, veterans will learn how to use poetry to better communicate about the hidden wounds they carry. The workshop will also include a discussion about bridging non-veteran and veteran culture.

For more information visit the Hidden Poetry Facebook page.