Geraldine Chavis



Geri Chavis is a professor of English and Women’s Studies at St. Catherine University. Her specialties include Nineteenth and early Twentieth Century British and American literature; the genres of the novel and poetry; and courtship, marriage and family themes in literature.

Dr. Chavis is also a licensed psychologist, certified poetry therapist, master mentor-supervisor and the current President of the National Association for Poetry Therapy, a professional organization devoted to promoting the use of language, story and metaphor for personal development and mental health. She has extensive experience teaching courses and facilitating workshops in poetry therapy in the U.S., Ireland and Great Britain. Her latest book is entitled Poetry and Story Therapy: The Healing Power of Creative Expression, and she is currently working on a book dealing with British courtship novels, entitled Who’s Protecting Whom: Heroes, Heroines and Danger in British Courtship Novels From 1740-1920.

As an enthusiastic advocate of interdisciplinary learning and teaching, Geri has taught and co-taught a variety of interdisciplinary courses involving the integration of literary works with women’s studies, history, biology, theology, holistic health studies, social work, film studies, counseling and developmental psychology and art history. In relation to both her teaching and research, Geri loves to travel and gather teaching props and particularly enjoys teaching Study Abroad courses.

  • History of courtship literature and practice
  • Poetry Therapy/Bibliotherapy
  • Marriage and family relationships in literature
  • British Romanticism
  • Women Studies
  • Influence Studies focusing on paired authors

Ph.D. in English Literature and Language
Syracuse University, 1973

Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology
University of St. Thomas, 1983

Master of Arts in English Literature and Language
Syracuse University, 1969

Bachelor of Arts, Magna Cum Laude. Major: English; Minor: Education
City College of New York, 1967

National Association for Poetry Therapy. (2016). Elected President.

St. Catherine University. (2014). Faculty Mentor Recognition Award.

St. Catherine University. (2011). Bonnie Jean Kelly and Joan Kelly Faculty Excellence Award.

St. Catherine University Alumnae Association Myser Family Foundation. (2009). Teaching Excellence Award.

Abigail McCarthy Center for Women. (2008). Women’s Research and Creative Work Award for article, “Courtship Danger in Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility."

National Federation for Biblio/Poetry Therapy. (2008). Awarded the status of Master Mentor/Supervisor, a designation reserved for those who are qualified to train future mentor/supervisors in the field of biblio/poetry therapy.

National Association for Poetry Therapy. (2007). Art Lerner Pioneer Award for bringing poetry therapy to the Republic of Ireland and work in Glasgow and Cornwall.

Jane Austen Society of North America. (2005). Mentor for Student Essay Contest Winner.

National Assoc. for Poetry Therapy. (2003). Outstanding Achievement Award Winner.

St. Catherine University. (1999–2002). Sister Mona Riley Endowed Professorship in Humanities.

National Association for Poetry Therapy. (1990). Outstanding Service Award.

Syracuse University. (1967–1970). National Defense Education Act 3 Year Fellowship for Graduate Study.

City College of New York. (1967). Phi Beta Kappa, Gamma Chapter.

City College of New York. (1963–1965). Selected Students Program.

UMAIE Study Abroad Course Award for Summer (2015)

St. Catherine University Study Abroad Award for Summer (2015)

St. Catherine University Carondelet Scholars Program Grants (2012–2016)

St. Catherine University Study Abroad Award for Summer (2007)

Bush Foundation Grant for Research (1982)

Marie Ursule Faculty Grant (1980)

National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship (1974) – Seminar for College Teachers – Harold Bloom, Yale University

  • Marriage and Family in Literature
  • Tales of Courtship and Seduction
  • Literature for Growth and Healing
  • British Writers and the Woman Question” (Study Abroad Course/ History and Literature)
  • American Writers (1870–1940)
  • Human Experience in Literature
  • British Writers II: Romantics Realists and Reformers.
  • Senior Seminar: Woolf and Lawrence: Two Modernist Voices
  • Novels Into Film/ Literature Into Film
  • Quality of Life: Mind, Body and Spirit Through the Life Stages
  • Jane Austen’s Novels: Then and Now
  • The Female Hero from Ancient to Contemporary Times
  • Literature in Sickness and Health
  • Beauty, Poetry and Revelation (Literature and Theology)
  • The Power of Poetry
  • Short Story: Slices of Life and Striking Revelations
  • The Dance of Life: Courtship in Humans and Other Animals (Literature and Biology)
  • Drama: On the Page and on the Stage
  • Psychological Realism & Social Protest: Turn of the Century Lit (1870–1920)
  • Virginia Woolf-Katherine Mansfield Senior Seminar
  • Wild Women and Saints: Images of Women in 19th Century British, French and American Fiction
  • The Sixties in America (Literature and History)
  • Gender Issues: Stereotypes and Realities (Literature and Social Work)
  • Introduction to Poetry/Bibliotherapy: Theory and Practice
  • Intermediate Poetry Therapy: Expanding and Deepening the Practice of Poetry Therapy

Mentor/Supervision of Poetry Therapy Trainees from the U.S., Great Britain and Ireland, 2002–Present

Consultant for Revised edition of Nicholas Mazza’s Poetry Therapy: Interface of the Arts and Psychology, 2015

Panel Moderator- for Special Event, “The Healing Power of Poetry: Empowering Disenfranchised Youth through Self-Expression” (Richard Gold and his Pongo Project). Sponsored by St. Catherine University’s English Department and School of Social Work, 2015

Reviewer of Jerry O’Neill’s manuscript, “Peach, Limestone & Green,” poems and prose on grieving the loss of a spouse, 2014

Clinical Work as Licensed Psychologist in Private Practice, Edina, MN, 1996–2013

Psychology Associate, Hamm Memorial Psychiatric Clinic, St. Paul, MN, 1990–1996

Counselor, Humanist Psychotherapy Center, Minneapolis, MN, 1983–1989


Chavis, G. Poetry and Story Therapy: The Power of Creative Expression (2011) London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers

Chavis, G. & Weisberger, L. The Healing Fountain: Poetry Therapy for Life’s Journey (2003) St. Cloud, MN: North Star Press of St. Cloud

Chavis, G. Ed. Family: Stories From the Interior (1987) St. Paul, MN: Graywolf Press

Articles, Book Chapters and Book Reviews

Chavis, G. (2016) "Foreword" in Poetry Therapy: Theory and Practice by Nicolas Mazza. Second Edition, London: Taylor and Francis

Chavis, G. (2016) Chapter on “Poetry Therapy in the Treatment of Eating Disorders” in Creative Arts Therapies and Clients with Eating Disorders. Ed. Annie Heiderscheit. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, Inc.

Chavis, G. (2013). “Looking Out and Looking In: Journeys to Self-Awareness and Empathy through Creative Juxtapositions” in Journal of Poetry Therapy, Vol. 26, No. 3

Chavis, G. (2012) “Review of Write Yourself: Creative Writing and Personal Development by Gillie Bolton” in Journal of Poetry Therapy, Vol. 25, No. 4

Chavis, G. (2011) “Enhancing Counsellor’s Wellbeing Through Poetry Therapy” in Eisteach: A Quarterly Journal of the Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, Vol. 11, No. 2

Chavis, G. (2007) “In Memoriam: Sister Arleen McCarty Hynes” in Journal of Poetry Therapy, Vol 20, No. 1

Chavis, G. (2006) “Four Vignettes” in Writing Works: A Resource Handbook for Therapeutic Writing Workshops and Activities. Eds. G. Bilton, V. Field & K. Thompson. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers

Chavis, G. (2003) “Juxtapositions: A British Experience of Work and Pleasure” Colleagues, Vol. 13, No. 1

Chavis, G. (2001) “Forward” to Karen B. Miller’s The Cancer Poetry Project. (Minneapolis: Fairview Press

Chavis, G. (1999) “At the Crossroads of the Humanities and Healing.” Journal of Poetry Therapy, Vol.13, No. 2

Chavis, G. (1997) “Dancing At Two Weddings” Colleagues. Vol. 6, No. 7

Chavis, G. (1997) “Healing through Word and Image” Phoenix

Chavis, G. (1996) “Satisfying Combinations: My Journey to Poetry Therapy” MN Women Psychologists Newsletter

Chavis, G. (1995) “Reflecting on the Reflective Woman” Colleagues, Vol. 5, No. 1

Chavis, G. (1995) Co-editor of The Reflective Woman Reader. Acton, MA: Copley Custom Publishing Co.

Chavis, G. (1992) “Through the Looking Glass” in Walking in Two Worlds: Women’s Spiritual Paths. Eds. K. VanderVort, J. H. Timmerman and E. Lincoln. St. Cloud, MN: North Star Press

Chavis, G. (1992) “Weaving Strands of Belief.” Scan: St. Catherine Alumnae News

Chavis, G. (1991) “Women’s Experience” (Chapter 14) in Life Guidance Through Literature. Eds. Arthur Lerner and U. R. Mahlendorf. Chicago: American Library Association

Chavis, G. (1988) “Family Portraits: Family Influence on Body Image” The Melpomene Journal

Chavis, G. (1987) “Poetry in a Women’s Growth Group on the Mother-Daughter Relationship.” Journal of Poetry Therapy, Vol. 1, No. 2

Chavis, G. (1987–1990) “Poetic resources Column in Journal of Poetry Therapy. Vol. 1 through 3 (Ten issues)

Chavis, G. (1986) “The Use of Poetry for Clients Focusing on Family Issues,” The Arts in Psychotherapy: An International Journal, Vol. 13, No. 2

Chavis, G. (1986) “Mothers and Daughters: Understanding the Bond,” Scan: St. Catherine Alumnae News

Chavis, G. (1985) “Healing Power of Poetry,” Spotlight (Rehabilitation Psychology Newsletter), Vol. 5, No. 6

Chavis, G. (1982) “Literary Explorations of Aging: A Course Design and Annotated Bibliography” Minnesota English Journal, Vol. XII, No.2

Chavis, G. (1976) “Dual Poetic Voices in Keats’ ‘Eve of St. Agnes’” The English Quarterly, Vol. IX, Nos. 1 & 2

Chavis, G. (1971) “D. H. Lawrence’s Ursula Brangwen: Toward Self and Selflessness.” Thoth, Vol. 12

Chavis, G. (2016) "Virginia Woolf Embracing and Deconstructing Jane Austen: Irony, Satire and the Courtship Novel Tradition." 26th Annual International Conference on Virginia Woolf (Theme: Virginia Woolf and Heritage) at Leeds Trinity University in Leeds, England

Chavis, G. (2016) “Introducing Poetry and Story for Growth and Healing” The Poetry Practice, Beaney House of Art and Knowledge, Canterbury, England

Chavis, G. (2016) “Introducing Poetry and Story for Growth and Healing” in Belmullet, Ireland

Chavis, G. (2016) “Self-Care and Self-Understanding Through Creative Expression” Mayo Rape Crisis Counseling Center, Belmullet, Ireland

Chavis, G. (2015) “Expressive Writing for Growth and Healing” for Master in Fine Arts Program, Butler University, Indiana

Chavis, G. (2015) “Romantic poetry and the Byron’s poem ‘She Walks in Beauty.’” Poetry Spoken Here podcast #005, interview by Charles Rossiter

Chavis, G. (2015) “Story Therapy” – for JournalVerse, interviewed by Kay Adams, Therapeutic Writing Institute

Chavis, G. (2015) "Writing/Walking Experience: Exploring Mountain Vistas to Replenish the Soul”." at Carl Sandburg’s House. National Assoc. for Poetry Therapy conference in Asheville, North Carolina

Chavis, G. (2015) “Who’s Protecting Whom: Danger in Victorian Courtship Novels.” Univ. of MN English Graduate Students and Faculty Symposium

Chavis, G. (2014) “Poetry Therapy in Theory and Practice, In-Service for Hamm Psychiatric Clinic, St. Paul, MN

Chavis, G. (2014) “Sir Charles Grandison’s Guide to Mansfield Park.” Jane Austen Society of North America conference in Montreal, Canada

Chavis, G. (2013) “Courtship and Seduction by the Book” for Selim Center, St. Thomas University, St. Paul, MN

Chavis, G. (2013) "Looking In and Looking Out: Journeys to Self-Awareness and Empathy through Creative Juxtapositions." Keynote Address at National Association for Poetry Therapy 32nd Annual Conference, Chicago, Illinois

Chavis, G. (2012) “An Introduction to Poetry Therapy—Infusing Liberal Arts into Health Care,” to the inaugural class of the Physician’s Assistant Program at St. Catherine University

Chavis, G. (2012) "Juxtapositions and Mental Gymnastics." St. Catherine University Core Convocation Address

Chavis, G. (2012) "Poetry for Growth and Healing." St. Catherine University Alumnae Reunion

Chavis, G. (2012) "Creative Explorations of Change." National Association for Poetry Therapy Annual Conference

Chavis, G. (2012) "Introduction to Poetry Therapy." Intermediate Creative Writing Course at Bethel University in St. Paul

Chavis, G. (2011) "Fostering Women's Self-Awareness and Self Esteem Through Creative Expression." Scholars/Brown Bag Series for Abigail McCarthy Center for Women

Chavis, G. (2011) "The Power of Poem, Story and Writing for Healing." Workshop for Lapidus, Glasgow, Scotland (Org. for Creative Words for Health and Wellbeing

Chavis, G. (2011) "The Healing Fountain: An Introduction to Poetry Therapy." Lapidus, Cornwall (UK organization devoted to writing, literature and healing)

Chavis, G. (2011) “Bereavement and Creative Expression” and “Oasis for Therapists,” International College of Professional and Personal Development in Athlone, Ireland

Chavis, G. (2011) “Literature into Film: Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing and Walker’s The Color Purple,” SCU Alumnae Association

Chavis, G. (2011) “The Healing Power of Creative Expression” at MN Rehabilitation Nurses Assoc. Conference, Minnesota

Chavis, G. (2011) “The Inside Experience of Aging Though Poem and Story”at St Catherine University

Chavis, G. (2010) “Poetry for Growth and Healing,” St. Catherine University Alumnae Association

Chavis (2010) “Professional Development and the Use of Creative Arts Therapy” – International Conference of Society for Arts in Health Care, Minnesota

Chavis (2009) “Jane Austen’s Romantic Leading Men: Heroes with Feet of Clay,” College of St. Catherine Alumnae Association