USING POETRY TO OVERCOME FEAR: Angela Coleman

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Angela Coleman, Case Manager at the GLIDE Walk-In Center, newest appointee to San Francisco’s Reentry Council and Poet.

Angela Coleman, Case Manager at the GLIDE Walk-In Center, has a lot to celebrate. As the newest appointee to the San Francisco Reentry Council, Angela looks forward to helping formerly incarcerated people reach their potential as they readjust to life outside prison. “The appointment to the Reentry Council is a very humbling opportunity and I am grateful to have been chosen for this seat. I have worked in some capacity of Reentry since 2004 as a resident in Walden House,” she said.

For Angela, this appointment is not only a professional honor but also an opportunity to influence policy on an issue that is deeply personal. “My 11 years with GLIDE has strengthened my desire to support incarcerated and formerly incarcerated individuals. This is where I found my voice, and the courage to begin a new journey for myself as a formerly incarcerated African American woman recovering from life’s pains and sufferings.”

Speaking from experience, Angela knows that second chances begin with a safe place to live, and she plans to put housing at the forefront of her efforts on the Council. “We need funding for reentry support for people beginning at their arrest, after the booking process. Homelessness is in a bad place in San Francisco and getting worse. We need housing–permanent housing and fewer shelters.”

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Left to right: Co-Founder Janice Mirikitani, Co-Executive Director Kristen Growney Yamamoto, Angela Coleman, Co-Executive Director Rita Shimmin.

Throughout her life, which has been fraught with difficulty, Angela has used poetry as a medium to reflect on her emotions and overcome instability and fear. As part of our National Poetry Month activities at GLIDE, we asked her to share some words about why writing has been so important to her. “Poetry has been a part of my life from childhood. I remember Easter and Christmas in church. My mother would encourage me to learn my speeches, I loved it. My mother writes and I did not learn that until later in life. But I’ve always written. Poetry is healing when you are in recovery. I’ve written over a thousand poems. As host of SpeakOut at GLIDE, I shared my poetry where I found my voice.”

According to Angela, the two poems below, “Angel I” and “Angel II,” were inspired by the encouragement of GLIDE Founder, Janice Mirikitani. “She took me in her office and read some poetry from her book and I believe Alice Walker’s. I said ‘I got it, I got it!!!’”

The poems reflect on her childhood, her addiction, life on the streets and the years since she has become a part of GLIDE.

Angel I

 

She could no longer fly

Couldn’t remember why

Molested of innocence

Raped from direction

Tears blocked her vision

Violence surrounded her

Pain punctured her heart

She heard no sounds of love

She hid her face

Her voice was replaced

Medicine numbed her

Angel rented another space

A slave of misery

Falling-falling from Grace

Scared and alone

The streets became her home

As she sat in the alley

Bitter sweet

Running through her veins

The cold air was

Her only company

Sickness and pain

Invades her sleep

She must rise

In search of her master

Overdoses, hospitals and jail

Was her only rescue

Death passed her by 

She screamed aloud

Then grace showed its face

Miraculously she could again

 Feel her wings

The voice spoke

Love yourself as I

She then remembered why

She could no longer fly.

Recovery is a gift of life

3/9/10

 

Angel II

 

Angel remembered why she could no longer fly

Recovery is a gift of life

Her wings begin to heal

Unconditional love embraced

Deserving was not erased

She learned to love and forgive herself

And others so she could live

Glide helped her find her voice

Angel made a choice

Giving back to her community

She began to rise

Cease to despise

Angel took back her power

Spirituality rose to its feet

She gained courage, hope and peace

Joy and unconditional love

Happiness, blessings in droves

Acceptance, meeting people where they’re at

People just like her

Her family

She can fly like an Angel 

3/16/16

Hilary Disch, Development Associate and Digital Community at GLIDE
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