'TENDERLY LIFT ME' Woman's book honors nurses



The Newton Falls woman's book is the basis for a play in Cleveland.
By WILLIAM K. ALCORN
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
NEWTON FALLS -- It's hard to decide if Jeanne Bryner is a nurse who writes or a writer who is a nurse.
"Two-thirds of the world's illiterate are women ... there are songs and stories and plays they will never hear. Out of that silence, I feel driven to write," she said.
"I want people to care about nurses the way nurses care about people who are total strangers. ... When readers finish this book, I want them to find a nurse and say, 'Thank you,'" Bryner, of Newton Falls, writes in the preface of her new book, "Tenderly Lift Me: Nurses Honored, Celebrated, and Remembered."
"Tenderly Lift Me" is a combination of real-life narratives and poems about nurses in history up until the present, including Helen Albert and others from the Warren area.
Why she wrote it
Bryner said she wrote "Tenderly Lift Me" to document the stories of nurses whom people did not know about. In doing research for the book, she said the "selflessness of nurses resonated throughout."
"Tenderly Lift Me" is the basis for a new play, "Intensive Care," being staged at 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Eldred Theatre at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.
The play, which runs a little more than an hour and is accompanied by a cello, is very physical with a lot of lifting and moving of bodies, Bryner said. She said cast members "shadowed" nurses on the job and have been coached by nurses to give realism to their roles.
Bryner, passionate about writing and nursing, has developed a lifestyle into which she fits both.
She is an urgent-care nurse three days a week at Forum Health's Elm Road Urgent Care. She also is an award-winning writer who teaches community writing workshops and creative writing at Kent State University. She meets regularly with her writing friends to discuss ideas and critique one another's manuscripts. In her spare time, she quilts.
Bryner, 52, does most of her writing early in the morning in her study off the kitchen, overlooking the pasture behind the rural home she shares with her husband, David, retired from General Motors Corp., Lordstown, where he was a die setter.
Her stepson, Gary, lives in Hamilton, Ohio, and David and Jeanne's adopted daughter, Summar, is from Killeen, Texas.
She writes prose and poetry, with a slight preference for poetry "because it is more powerful."
Her background
Bryner, who calls herself a "child of Appalachia," was born in Waynesburg, Pa., and lived in West Virginia until she was 4, when her coal miner father moved the family to Newton Falls to work at Rockwell Standard.
She graduated from Newton Falls High School and Trumbull Memorial Hospital School of Nursing in Warren and received an English degree from KSU's Honors College.
She has received many awards for her writing, including the Young Poets Seminar Fellowship at Bucknell University and the Individual Artist Fellowship from the Ohio Arts Council. Bryner's other books include "Blind Horse," "Breathless" and "Eclipse."
"Intensive Care," directed and adapted by Cleveland native Nicole Pearce, celebrates National Nursing Week, which is this week.
XFor reservations and directions, call (216) 226-6375. The cost is a suggested donation of $10. All proceeds benefit the Genevieve Quinn Schmitt Scholarship Fund at Case Western Reserve University's School Nursing.
alcorn@vindy.com

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