Counselor used pandemic downtime to write healing memoirs
When author André Hadley Marria suffers mentally or spiritually, she turns to the open sky. Marria calls it twice a week on the bike “vitamin D therapy”.
A child of the rural south-east, she cycled on dirt roads in search of water, pines and comfort. She looked forward to the days spent on her father’s boat where she could be in the wild. These moments would be captured with his camera, or on paper in a poem.
In March 2020, Marria was confined to her home as the COVID-19 pandemic raged. She was waiting for the hospitals to reopen so that she could have her hip operated on. For 20 years she had told herself that she would write a book based on her childhood and the healing journey she had taken while writing.
During quarantine, she finally kept her promise.
“I found myself locked in the house with a bad hip, so I decided to put everything in place and make it happen,” says Marria. “I have used my music and my poetry in the work that I have done most of my life.”
Reading and signing books
“The Songs I Could Not Sing: A Book of Descriptive Verse of Life Written on the Pages of the Heart”, is the first author of Marria. Composed of both photos and poems, it details its journey from resentment and the pursuit of forgiveness to acceptance and discovery.
Marria will give a reading and book signing on Saturday, September 25 at The Bookshelf in Thomasville, GA
The title of the book is a play on Marria’s family roots. Born into a family of professional singers, her aunt was the first African-American doctoral student to graduate from Florida State University’s College of Music. She had no choice but to join school and church choirs and sing at many family and community events.
Marria graduated from Fort Valley State University with a Bachelor of Music degree. All the while, she’s been writing her inner world in a secret voice on scraps of paper.
“I always put my thoughts in writing and never share them,” says Marria. “I was an observer of the life and the circumstances in which I found myself. I had a hard time talking to people when I was young because I came from a strong family who always told you that you had no voice. ”
Path to public service
After Marria’s wedding, she realized that music was not her path. Instead, she went back to school and earned a master’s degree in mental health counseling. As a Chartered Professional Counselor and former President of the Association of Chartered Professional Counselors of Georgia, Marria has worked in the public service for over 30 years filling many roles.
She was deputy director of the Southwest Georgia Mental Health, Developmental Disorders and Addictive Diseases Regional Council before becoming director of the Thomas County Department of Family and Child Services.
Now retired, Marria still provides coaching, counseling and counseling services and works with the health promotion unit at the Morehouse School of Medicine to develop research-based teen pregnancy prevention initiatives. in southwest Georgia. His motivation for entering mental health was driven by his past.
Poems and Painful History
“I realized that I wanted to go into mental health because of the problems of my childhood, being an adult child of alcoholic parents,” says Marria. “I wanted to start to understand if I was crazy or not, or if the world I lived in was crazy. Becoming a mental health graduate and licensed therapist, I would take the pieces of poetry and use them in my therapeutic process.
Marria says talking about trauma often means reliving it, so she would use “mental stretching through the arts” to connect with her young clients. She often used one of her poems, now in the book, titled “Will You Come Home With Me,” as a foray into connecting with children during sessions.
Using both her music and writing background, she has found techniques that have helped her clients come to terms with their painful family histories.
“Will You Come Home With Me,” describes Marria’s own childhood experiences. She addresses feelings of shame in the poem as she writes about “the broken steps to her house”, “the long lonely nights” and the times when drinking and arguing between her parents were out of control. The repetitive chorus and the question, “Will you come home with me?” has a different intonation each time it is asked.
“With this work, the children have the chance to examine many different facets of the things they have buried,” says Marria, who says many will be talking about substances, sexual and physical abuse. “It helps fill that gap in family counseling. Thanks to poetry, parents see their children in a different light. They hear their stories that touch their minds.
“I always sing too”
Marria was very surprised by the liberation she felt after publishing her own work. After so many years without being able to sing her song, she hopes the book will allow others to honor their dark sides and find ways to reflect on both their present and their past.
She plans to record an audiobook to accompany this work, as well as film a documentary that will help people embrace their own inner greatness.
“I always sing too,” adds Marria, who has gone from lyrical soprano to jazz singer. She has a few pieces in her back pocket, ready to be shared the next time she signs.
“I found my voice. The stage we’re on is the stage we’re meant to be on. The message we give in that song, dance or poem might be just what someone needs.
Amanda Sieradzki is the feature film writer for the Council on Culture & Arts. COCA is the Capital Region’s umbrella agency for arts and culture (www.tallahasseearts.org).
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If you are going to
What: Author Signature with André Hadley Marria
When: 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday September 25
Or: The Bookshelf, 126 S Broad St, Thomasville, GA
Cost: To free
Contact: For more information, visit http://www.bookshelfthomasville.com/. To learn more about André Marria, visit www.songsspoken.com.