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  • Writer's pictureTamsin Hartley

Captured Moments: poems inspired by a Listening Space

Updated: Jan 21, 2021

In 2010, I attended a training where I was introduced to a specific set of questions, asked in a particular way, that helped to transform the way that I listen to myself and to others.

These questions are called Clean questions. One of the things that makes them unique is that they can be used to focus on the metaphors that we naturally use to express ourselves – describing one thing in terms of another. Shining a light on these metaphors can be a very creative way of coming to know ourselves better.

As part of the training we were encouraged to represent in some way what we had learnt from our personal exploration. Within 15 minutes a poem ‘came to me’. A poem which gave voice to some very powerful realisations in a way that was deeply satisfying.

Over the past few years I have noticed that if I sit still for long enough to ‘capture the moment’, a poem appears. And if I find myself grappling with an aspect of the experience that I want to capture, then I know I can turn to good friends who will help me explore my thinking by creating a Listening Space for me using Clean questions.

You can even ask these questions of yourself.

For example, when I decided that I wanted to write a poem about 'trust', I found a quiet moment to ask myself some Clean questions about what trust means to me:

What kind of trust is that?

Believing someone to be capable.

Trusting that they can make good decisions, that they will learn from their mistakes, that they can bounce back from setbacks.

Is there anything else about trust?

It’s helping someone to know themselves.

There are three components:

Seeing – I need to see them, to truly notice them

Listening – I need to listen deeply, to truly hear them,

Trusting – I need to believe in them, to honour them.

Whereabouts is trust?

Deep inside me. In my heart area.

Does trust have a size or a shape?

These three components are like seeds that nourish.

Like a sweet chestnut.

With trust comes vulnerability.

There’s a protective case (to protect against pain) that has to be peeled back to allow each seed to be realised.

And is there anything else about trust?

My relationships are the richer for having trust.

And the poem that resulted?


Deep down inside,

encased and protected,

three sweet seeds,

each with a quality

to nourish the soul.


Listen deeply

beneath the words

as a story unfolds.

I hear you.

And I have a voice.


See deeply.

Prise open the layers;

a prickled exterior

cannot protect from the pain.

I see you.

And I am here.


Trust deeply

despite doubts

that threaten equilibrium.

I trust you.

And I am worthy.

Some family members and friends have commented on how much they have enjoyed reading my poems, and suggested I put a collection in print to share with others.

So that’s what I’ve done! Captured Moments: Poems Inspired by a Listening Space is now available to buy.

The book also includes a fun activity for the reader to try, inviting them to explore their own experience in a creative way through metaphor using Clean questions.

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