Site Navigation

Detail Mentor Profile: ANNA SOTER

Graduate Institute for Transformative Learning


Anna Soter

The University of Illinois, Ph.D. (Education) 1985

Born in the Austrian Alps, grew up in the northwest Australian outback, is Professor Emerita at The Ohio State University. Prior to recent retirement, was Professor in English Education at OSU from 1986-2012. From 2006-2012, created and ran the Holistic Education Focus Area for the M.A. in the College of Education & Human Ecology at OSU; founder (2010) of The Hospital Poets Program for The Ohio State University Medicine and the Arts Program; monthly Poetry & Writing Workshops for the James Care for Life Program at the Stephanie Spielman Breast Cancer Center, Columbus, Ohio (2010-2012); workshops and presentations on language, writing, literary response, poetry (1994-2012); created graduate and professional development courses on Experiencing Poetry for the Human Resource Professional, and Language as a Field of Energy in Education and Social Sciences.


  • University of Sydney, M.Arts (English Language and Literature). 1982
  • University of Western Australia, B.Arts, 1974
  • Dept of Education, Western Australia, Secondary Teaching Certificate (English/History), 1968



Main Interest

I retired from Ohio State University in July 2012 to focus on writing projects, and expanding my work related to language beyond educational settings –to the world at large. I continue my academic affiliations as Professor Emerita at Ohio State University, Adjunct Professor at Self-Design Institute, and more recently, as Adjunct Professor at Murdoch University, Australia. I continue to publish in my areas of interest, including in academic journals, and am expanding publication in non-academic venues. I continue to write and talk about language; two recent papers (see vita excerpts below) focus on “rescuing” metaphor from the poetry unit or lesson to which it was largely banished. Language and discourse analysis remains an abiding interest. I continue to create and facilitate workshops using poetry and writing for personal growth and transformation.

Personal Statement

Among my current and abiding areas of interest are transforming language pedagogy through promoting the use of the concept I coined, namely, Language as a Field of Energy, applying it in settings that span education as well as health and wellness and daily life; and incorporating the use of poetry in medical centers and hospitals in particular (I founded the Hospital Poets at OSU in 2010); writing and poetry as opportunities to change our “energy fields.” I continue to be involved in mentoring young adults in university settings, both formally and informally, and enjoy that work very much. I am deeply interested in the relationships between “place,” “space” and “states of being” and am engaged in a large project exploring those relationships and their impact on whether one thrives or not through my deep connections with the far northwest of Western Australia. Reflective of the above interests are articles projects, workshops, and presentations, some of which are listed below. Full curriculum vita is available on by website


SDGI Courses

PM 524 Poetry Reading and Writing: The Reconnected Body, Heart, and Mind (3 credits) (Soter)

Learners in this course will engage in reading and writing poetry, understanding how poetry connects us through its kinesthetic qualities, and working with poetry in ways that move us to new spaces and places. Learners explore the ways that poetry acts as a wonderful resource for connecting with others as well as connecting self to life in all its forms.

PM 525 Language as a Field of Energy in Education, Media, and Medical Settings (3 credits) (Soter)

Learners explore language as an energy-field, as a vibrational field that reflects thought as well as influences it. Unexamined language use is like Dewey’s unreflective thought, yet language can be changed to ultimately influence thought. Learners examine language as a resonant field with powerful implications for social, political, and personal transformation.

PM 526 Language as a Field of Energy for Self-Growth (3 credits) (Soter)

Learners explore language as an energy-field, as a vibrational field with implications for self-growth. Learners undertake self-study of personal linguistic habits and patterns as well as those within their families and social networks. Language patterns become habitual and inadvertently lead to assumptions that we are uttering absolute truths that remain unexamined via the language used to convey them. Learners examine their own linguistic habits as windows to mental and emotional habits and then use language to create new linguistic, mental, and emotional patterns of behavior for self-growth.


  • Language As A Field Of Energy And Language Pedagogy


Publications/Presentations/Professional Projects

  • Soter, A. O.(to appear, January, 2017). Language as a Field of Energy: A Critical Question for Language Education. Journal of Critical Questions in Education, Vol 18, Issue #1.
  • 2015  Soter, A.O., & Andrle, F. ( Oct 2015). Medicine & The Arts and The Hospital Poets Reading Series: Poetry for Medical Professionals. In Medicus: The Australian Medical Association Journal, pp. 56-57.
  • 2014  “White of Snow: “A Thin Place Exhibition. Junghaus, Columbus, OH March 8-April 24. Curated by Sydney Schardt, Sanctuary for the Arts, Sunbury, OH.
  • Soter, A. O. (2013). Grammar, punctuation and usage: Rhetorical tools for Literate Uses of Language. NY: Pearson Education.
  • Soter, A.O. (Summer 2013). Living the Language We Think and Utter: Language as a Field of Energy. SelfGrowthWisdom, Columbus, OH and
  • Soter, A. O. (June, 2011). Poetry – An antidote to technological and other modern addictions? In Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers Center Quarterly, pp. 13-17. Perth, Western Australia: KSP Publications.
  • Soter, A. O. (Spring, 2011). On Resolutions: New Year’s or Otherwise. In SelfGrowthWisdom, (pps. 12-14) Also online at:
  • “Sing the Bizarre.” Journal of Language and Literacy Education, University of Georgia, November, Vol (2).

Other Activities

  • 2015-2010 Founder and Convener. The Hospital Poets Reading Series Quarterly readings by various poets at different venues at the Wexner Medical Center, The Ohio State University. Inaugural Reading featuring Fred Andrle, former WOSU Radio Host. Hospital Poets Reading Series Affiliated with Medicine and the Arts Program, The Ohio State University Medical School, Columbus, Ohio.
  • 2009-2002. Co-Convener, Peripatetic Poets, Columbus, Ohio. (Monthly Readings).
  • 2007-2006. Co-convener, Rattlebox Poetry Readings, Liberty Book Store, Columbus, Ohio. Inaugural Reading.


  •  Language, Connections, and Sustaining a Whole Life. Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA,  May 2, 2014
  • It’s Not Just a Figure of Speech: Taking Metaphor Out of the Poetry Closet and into This Brave New World. AATE/ALEA Annual Conference, Brisbane, Australia, July 6, 2013
  • Language, thought and action: A conceptual discussion on the relationships between language, thought, and action. Graduate School of Education, University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia, 10 March, 2010.
  • Writing for Well-Being: Discovering Your Inner Poet. The Ohio State University, James Cancer Hospital/Solove Research Institute Workshop, Columbus, OH, May 2010. (indicate whether peer reviewed)
  • Reconciling creative pursuit in education: Weaving in and out of academic/aesthetic writing. A Brown-Bag presentation for the Teaching as Scholarly Practice Special Interest Group, School of Teaching and Learning, College of Education. May 4, 2006..
  • Straddling three worlds: Multiple languages, literacies and identities. Guest Lecture for Foreign Language Education Seminar (Professor Alan Hirvela), The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, January 26, 2006.
  • Professional Development and the Arts: The Art In/Of Everything – Literature and Poetry. Invited Speaker. The Ohio State Institute for the Advancement of the Arts in Education, June 16, 2004.

Relevant Poetry Readings and Related Events (2015-2010)

  • 2015  February. Featured poet. Sips Poetry Café,. Mt Vernon, Ohio.
  • 2014  Invited Panel Speaker, The Ohio Poetry Association on Senate Bill 84: A Poet Laureate for Ohio, State House Senate Hearing Committee, Columbus, Ohio. May 22.
  • 2014  Featured Poet and Reader, The Hospital Poets, Ackerman Hall, The Ohio State University Medicine and the Arts Program. June 13, 2014.
  • 2014  Featured Reader, SIPS Poetry Café, Mt Vernon, Ohio, April 22.
  • 2013  Featured Reader. Peripatetic Poets, October 24.
  • 2012 Featured Reader. The Hospital Poets Reading Series. Medicine and the Arts, The Ohio State University Medical School. February 2, The Stephanie Spielman Breast Cancer Clinic, Olentangy River Road, Columbus, Ohio.
  • 2012 Invited Speaker Inner Voice Podcast. On the Power of Language.
  • WithinsightsRadio ( Host Jennifer Sleck, November 22.
  • 2011 Featured Reader: Peripatetic Poets, September 28.
  • Featured Speaker: Language as a Field of Energy: How Habituated Are You to Your Language? Phoenix Bookstore, Columbus, Ohio
  • 2010  Founder, Convener & Chair, Hospital Poets Series. Featured Poet Mimi Chenfield. Medicine and the Arts, The Ohio State University Medical School. At the Stephanie Spielman Breast Cancer Clinic, Olentangy River Road, Columbus, Ohio. September 15.

Excerpt from Blog Entry for Writers’ Ink, January 22, 2015

A Journey Into Poetry Writing

I used to love teaching students about poetry, mostly because I “got” the genre and could analyze poems with my eyes shut. I’d always been good at that when in school and later when working on two degrees in English Literature and Language. But I had never written a poem, and I wasn’t too successful at helping students make sense of analyzing poetry either. As I know my own teachers as others with whom I’ve worked over the years have done, I put that down to it being a “problem with the student” rather than a problem with what we were asking them to do and how we were asking them to do it. Poetry, therefore, remained an esoteric mystery for almost all students I ever taught back when I was a high school teacher regardless of my knowledge and training in the field of literary and linguistic analysis.

My journey to writing poetry and developing a richer understanding of what this genre is, and offers, began one very snowy, bitterly cold and beautiful night in a small, cozy apartment on the third floor of a house on Central Avenue, Champaign-Urbana, Illinois in late December, 1983. My living room floor was littered with about 400 articles, grouped in piles and labeled according to research studies related to how cultures shape discourse, especially written discourse. The material, however, was hardly poetic in style, or nature. My left brain relished, thrived on this kind of stuff – dry academic discourse! My soul was parched.

Past midnight, bone tired, I had almost fallen asleep over those piles, when my eyes caught the phrase “narrative sickness” in an article by Brazilian educator and activist, PaoloFreire . It was a phrase he used to describe how so much has been written about illiteracy and yet how little has been effective in eradicating it in Brazil, his own country. So much written about it, so little achieved.

The phrase was, and is, poetic. I jolted awake, shocked. It gripped me on that freezing snowy night, it reached my right brain because in the midst of all that dry academic language, it was a poetic statement about the state of illiteracy everywhere.

I wrote, in a trance, my very first poem – not a great poem, but a poem and not from my left brain, but from some deeper, surprising source that continues to puzzle and amaze me all these years later though I no longer question nor suppress it. The poem, “Untitled,” tumbled out. It’s not a poem I’ve ever sent out for publication ─ it was, however, a door-opener, a lifter of the veil. It’s a perfect example of how Eamon Grennan in his poem,”Detail,” describes how poetry happens:

“you have your eye on a small

elusive detail, pursuing its music, when a terrible truth

strikes and your heart cries out, being carried off. “

Poetry such as this, speaks to the heart of matters resonates with our spirits, provides comfort where none can be found, truth where it is elusive, and inspiration where there had formerly been darkness. As one former patient smilingly said after a Hospital Poets’ reading in the OSU James Cancer Hospital as he wheeled himself out of the auditorium, “It (cancer) drags me down, buddy. It’s dragging me down bad. You need stuff to pull you up” [qtd. Cols Dispatch, Feb 3, 2013].” The “stuff” he was referring to is what he had just spent an hour in the middle of a day listening to: poetry.

We’ll connect again next month. Meanwhile, resolve to read and/or write some poetry. You might want to write about what you’ve found poetry has been able to do for you or why you’d like to know more about it, or … just write some poetry ☺.

From About Poetry with Dr. Anna Soter