Monday, November 5, 2018

Emotional Intelligence: Haiku Poetry Improving Health (Nurse Research)

When you think of healthcare, what do you envision? Is your focus mostly on physical heath in terms of food, exercise, or illness? What about your  spiritual health? Are your concerns mainly about improving personal growth through religion or other practices promoting a more meaningful life? What do you think about when the topic is your emotional health? Are you as conscious of that part of yourself and what you can do to improve it?

Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others. Improved self-esteem and decision-making are two bonuses when emotional intelligence is addressed. In fact, research in nursing and other disciplines has demonstrated that emotional intelligence abilities “improve communication, support constructive conflict resolution, and improve individual and team performance.” These qualities can also improve safety of patients.

I facilitated a poetry workshop focused on the improvement of emotional intelligence with adult student participants (ages 20's through 70's) and volunteer tutors at Siena Literacy Center in Detroit, MI. I thought using haiku poetry would work particularly well for them because several are African immigrants becoming more familiar with 
the English language.


Haiku is a form of traditional Japanese poetry focused on thoughts that capture special moments in time. Meaningful feelings are written in a small space. Haikus vary, but our workshop focused on including three lines with 5, 7, and 5 syllables. These are examples of haiku poetry:

 My oldest son died. (5 syllables)                             My daughter Fatou, (5)

 His sickness made me feel sad. (7 syllables)           I am proud she is reading. (7)

 I feel better now. (5 syllables)                                 She works hard in school. (5)

Arthur Cogshell                                                        Tamsir Ndow


Adding the emotional intelligence theme combined with haiku in a supportive environment was ideal for us. Successfully expressing in poetry their heartfelt emotions and reading about emotions of others were great ways to engage everyone in win-win conversations with empathy. 


We created healthy haikus about our joys, sadness, fears, and hopes. Poems were published in a wonderful anthology, which students proudly display in these photos. You can read a few of their haiku poems on this post. This project was done in partnership with Poets and Writers, Inc.
When I was a child,                                                  Working is much fun.

a man scared me with a knife.                                  I like being a cashier
That was horrible.                                                    making good money.

Nzi Kouadio                                                             Aletha Lewis

Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at online and offline booksellers. 


  1. Frances,
    I thank you for this wonderful workshop. Our learners and tutors appreciated the use of haiku aa a means of expressing emotions. It is simple and conveys the depth of feeling in the brief way of telling an important story. We are still using it together. Gratefully, Lenore Boivin, op

    1. I am glad you all enjoyed our poetic and beneficial experiences. I have heard many positive comments about the excellent poetry published in the anthology we created at the end of our haiku workshop sessions. Keep up your outstanding efforts as you continue to strive to reach your goals in life. I wish you every flavor of success. Frances Shani Parker

  2. It is such a treat to read about positive, life-affirming activities in these divisive times in which we live. Thanks to people like you, hope is ever present in the world.

    1. Dave, you are so right about divisive times. Hopefully, 2019 will bring improvements. Thank you so much for all the support you have given me through the years. Know that I always wish you the best. Happy endings, Frances