Remembering Michael

Michael White had a profound impact on many lives, and on the development of key concepts of narrative practice. His ideas, practices and presence live on in our lives and work. Here are some favorite tributes to Michael that begin with remembrances by members of the Power to Our Journeys Group. We include two tributes by David Epston, and a number of remembrances from the Dulwich Centre.

Power to our Journeys

Re-membering Michael. Members of the Power To Our Journeys Group, by Jussey Verco and Shona Russell was published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy (ANZJFT) Volume 30, Issue 2, June 2009.The author’s version of Remembrances of Power to our Journey group in Australia is posted on the Narrative Practices Adelaide website by permission of Australian Academic Press for personal use, not for redistribution.

David Epston

David Epston collaborated with Michael White for more than 25 years. He gave the speech Remembering Michael White at The Family Therapy Centre in Auckland, New Zealand on 23 May, 2008. Subsequently, it was published as Saying Hello Again: Remembering Michael White in The Journal of Systemic Therapies, Vol. 27, No. 3, 2008, pp. 1–15.

The following is the beginning of a letter that David wrote to Michael, published as Introduction to White, M.(2011), Narrative Practice: Continuing the Conversations, New York, WW Norton.

Michael, I read a short story some months after you died and I know it struck me like a blow in my undefended solar plexus when I did.

A bartender was the narrator of this story. He told of a patron coming day after day, sitting on the identical bar stool and ordering the same two glasses of white wine.  The bartender knew not to interrupt as his customer was engaged in what appeared to him to be earnest conversation with an unseen interlocutor. After finishing both glasses of wine in an hour or more, he would take his leave. After several years during which they had become accustomed to each other, the bartender was emboldened to ask, ‘Why two glasses of wine instead of one?’  His customer sorrowfully confided in him that the other glass was for his friend who had had to seek political exile. Some months later, his customer ordered a single glass. The bartender did something he never did; he reached across the bar and touched him, saying ‘my condolences’.

Michael, with what you have left behind and in particular the two hoards – these caches of treasures, one of which includes the papers that follow in this text and your archive of videotapes, I cannot imagine a time that many of us will not set out two glasses, one for you and one for ourselves. We have so much more to speak to you about and you have so much more to say to us.

Read More: David’s letter to Michael

The Dulwich Centre

The Dulwich Centre website includes ”The Michael White Archive” (see below) with a collection of writings, speeches, and songs in honour of his memory.

Re-authoring Teaching

LogoSquareThe above tributes really capture some of why so many of us are deeply impacted by Michael’s death, and our continued commitment to our work in ways that are congruent to what he taught us. In the  Narrative Practice & Collaborative Inquiry Study Group (2009-2016)  members collected seven years of reflections on these tributes and added some of their own. Current Collab Salon members can view these archived reflections here (scroll down to find – and click on- Remembering Michael).

Back to Tributes