Joining the Voices of Recovery: Joseph Green Inspires Through Spoken Word

August 24, 2018

Maureen Fitzgerald
ATTC Network Coordinating Office/NIATx

Joining the voices of recovery this September—and all year long— is spoken word artist Joseph Green.

Green is a motivational speaker, educational consultant, poet, and former Director of Youth Programs at Split This Rock, a Washington D.C. based organization that harnesses the power of poetry for social change. He's also a professional spoken word artist and storyteller, drawing on his recovery journey and other facets of his life to shape compelling narratives to inspire and help others.

Like this one, titled St. Jude:

A winding road to recovery

Green describes himself as "The son of a person in recovery, and a person in recovery."  His recovery journey began about a decade ago, when he stopped using hard drugs, but continued to use alcohol. 

His work using spoken word poetry and storytelling to speak out about his personal and familial battles with addiction began when he received a phone call that a friend had committed suicide by overdose.

“I went to the funeral and wrote something in response to how I felt at that moment,” says Green. “When I shared it back home, people were inspired and ask me to present at recovery events.”
Spoken Word: A broad designation for poetry intended for performance. Though some spoken word poetry may also be published on the page, the genre has its roots in oral traditions and performance....Characterized by rhyme, repetition, improvisation, and word play, spoken word poems frequently refer to issues of social justice, politics, race, and community. Poetry Foundation

Green began to present more frequently, writing more, and using his craft and his experience in his work with youth programs. But alcohol was still part of his life.

“I continued to drink until two years ago, when I found myself in a very painful life transition,” says Green. “I thought I had kept alcohol at bay, but it had become my crutch for emotional numbing. That’s when I decided it was imperative for me to seek full recovery. I started going to 12-step meetings, and I now have almost 2 years of sobriety.”

Green says his own recovery journey illustrates that there are many paths to recovery. “We need to be open to all paths and not shut someone out of the entire experience when one path doesn’t work.”

Stories connect us: Creative Mindfulness

Green’s speaking engagements include national and state conferences, recovery spaces, and high schools. His talks focus around the central theme of using story to inspire and remind people that more important than knowing what we are fighting against is knowing and never forgetting what we are fighting for.

"Numbers do not move hearts.  Statistics do not have soul. Yet a person with the support of a healthy community and the strength of purpose can change the world.”  Joseph Green 
He also conducts workshops on topics such as Creative Mindfulness, which he defines as the ability to use our creative power to sustain a practice of heightened or complete state awareness in both personal and professional spaces. "In other words,” says Green, “optimism, open mindedness, and the strength derived from vulnerability are all muscles that need to exercised. These workshops provide you with the tools to do just that.”

“Creative writing can help people process emotions and shape personal narratives,” says Green. “It can also prevent burnout for those working in high stress situations.” Workshops include an exploration of creative writing prompts to encourage the mindfulness practice of journaling and storytelling exercises to promote connectivity and autonomy over personal narrative.

2018 Recovery Month Theme

“When I heard the Recovery Month theme, “Join the Voices for Recovery, Invest in Health, Home, Purpose, and Community,” I heard a resolution to restore humanity,” says Green. “I heard treating people as intelligent and thoughtful beings and providing them with facts, not fear. I heard stigma shattering. And I heard most clearly the people who have been ravaged by this epidemic standing and proclaiming loudly that a change must come.”

“We must not neglect the truth that the battle against addiction must be fought on two fronts—medical and cultural,” adds Green. “As we continue to make advancements in the science of addiction we must continue to fight stigma and create spaces for people to speak out on their own behalf. Numbers do not move hearts. Statistics do not have soul. Yet a person with the support of a healthy community and the strength of purpose can change the world.”

Joseph Green is the featured speaker at The Wisconsin Voices for Recovery Rally for Recovery, Saturday, September 22, 11:00-2:00pm, State Capitol, Madison. 

Find out more about Joseph Green at LMS Voice

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