Wednesday, December 31, 2008
2008'S BEST CRIES
Most tender cry
The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
(whose website has been under construction for quite some time)
Years ago my friend Barbara recommended this book and the title stuck in my mind. I finally bought it last Jan with a bookstore gift certificate someone had given me, and even then it sat on my shelf for months. Just before summer, curled up on the couch for a weekend, I cried my way through Henry and Clare's romance. I love how the story's sadness and foreboding is peppered with the humour that comes when two people are so comfortably one, destined and resigned to that destiny of constant heartache. A heartache as beautiful as is is tragic.
Most stunning cry (sudden and unforseen)
Fierce Light - Where Spirit Meets Action
a documentary by Velcrow Ripper
Last October I attended my friend Sue's wedding. This friend had a chronic kidney condition and during the ceremony I could tell she was exhausted. Part way through the reception dinner, my husband and I realized that the entire wedding party was gone. Word came around that Sue had fallen ill and had to be taken to the hospital. She went into a coma and died that evening.
I was in shock, it was unreal that one could attend a friend's wedding and then the friend could vanish from this earth. Sue was all light and heart and spirit, but she also had a flair for the dramatic. We all agreed that her exit was beautiful... how many other people get a reception line of all their friends and family at the end of their lives?
A friend at Sue's wedding recommended a movie to me. She had specifically thought of me after watching it. She said Fierce Light was an inspiring documentary about people coming together for good, for peace, for action. That sounded about right. In the midst of a crazy work week, just a few days after Sue's death, I ducked out for a few hours to see the film at Vancouver Film Festival. It was sold out. I sat in the front row, swallowed by the screen.
In the opening sequence, the director Velcrow Ripper shows the story of Brad Will, an anarchist and video journalist, through his final film footage. Brad was shot and killed (by police) in 2006 during the teacher's strike in Oaxaca, Mexico, which he had traveled down to document. He basically filmed his own murder. The footage was gut-wrenching.
My heart burst open... it was too much. I had known Brad. I knew he had been killed, but I hadn't expected to see the footage on full screen in colour.
I had met Brad at Naropa University. My two fondest memories of him were when he and I spent an afternoon trying to create the perfect intoxicating tea and attending his mock gay wedding held outside the Promise Keeper's convention. Brad was one of a kind. A generous coyote trickster with a heart for justice.
I'm pretty sure I cried through the entire film, and not just for Sue and Brad, for all the wonderful, beautiful people out there with fierce light and spirit. Brad died doing what he had to do. Sue died in the arms of love. I don't know if there is any more appropriate way for them to leave us.
LINK to story about Brad that appeared in Rolling Stone
Monday, December 29, 2008
a: to clear of guilt
b: to free from moral or ceremonial defilement
c: to cause evacuation from (as the bowels)
I've been typing up my 2008 3:15 Experiment poems. I'm hoping to get them finished before spring. If you have never heard of the 3:15 Experiment... well I just don't know if I can talk to you any more. (it's a collaborative writing experiment, it's annual, it's insane)
August 9, 2008
Let’s all give ourselves a raise
all under promoted underplayed
artists report to the promenade deck
time for lawn bowling, sushi
and photos with loved ones
Celebration is a necessary component
festivities, fireworks, fondue
should not be kept on a shelf
in the back drawer, coated
with dust. Admire your success
open the windows let it be known
keep the hula skirt dry martinis
in china glasses mini umbrellas in our soup
ice sculptures shaped like ducks
cats w/impossibly soft pillows
rites of passage shuffleboard
sun setting over the hills horizons like
white elephants name your poison
name your game—name your baby
take away the name and what’s left?
the essence of what is
breath, celebration, light of our
lives we trust each other
only because we love
to give in, give away
we love to not be in charge
take us away people of the moon
people of the asteroids people
giant-like and forgiving.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
We've been the landlords to a Chinese family for the past year. They've been renting the bottom half of our house while their new home is being built. There are two kids, Mom and Dad, Grandma, and for two months a few cousins. I only understand about 1/10 of what Mom or Dad tells me, and Grandma speaks straight Cantonese with a lot of hand gestures. I always smile because her eyes laugh and shine whenever she speaks to me.
The laundry room is shared and I have to walk through their hallway, past their bathroom, Grandma’s room, and the kitchen to get there. I would have been horrified if any of my landlords had to walk down my hallway to do their laundry. I get shivers just thinking about a few of my landlords. We had a peeping tom for one when I lived in Prague...
In any case, whenever I venture down there, first knocking politely, then jiggling the doorknob so they know I’m about to enter, Grandma always greets me enthusiastically, with a hand on my arm, and the ladies wave from down the hall in the garage, pausing over their sewing machines... oh, yes, they do piece work in the garage. Mom, Grandma, Sister, and “Cousins.” They are chatty and keep the radio on a Chinese version of an easy listening station. The laundry room is just off the garage.
Over the last several months, Mom has hemmed two pairs of pants for me, our curtains, and she made me a green cammie for my birthday. I’ve photocopied papers for her, faxed documents to China, and I gave her kids most of my Halloween candy. They are moving out at the end of the month; their new
house is finished.
Today is Christmas and I need to do laundry. I had heard the whir of sewing machines earlier, so I know someone’s around. I’m not sure if they celebrate Christmas, with kids growing up North American and living in such a fusion of cultures. My own traditions have morphed since moving to Canada.
I grab a little present so I won’t go down empty handed. It’s a honey gift set that my friend made. Her parents run an apiary. They make the honey and she makes the beeswax candles. I venture downstairs and find Mom, Grandma, Sister, Cousin and a Girlfriend sharing a meal in the kitchen. Merry Christmas, Mom says. I hand her the honey gift set and she tells me in very broken English that she wants to invite me to a party at her new house. She then says to come over and she’ll hem my pants. Okay, I say.
Grandma opens all the cupboards, pointing and chatting the whole time. I smile and shake my head. She opens the refrigerator and gestures inside. I still don’t understand. She goes to a calendar and flips the pages to Dec 28. She points to everything around her and then gestures away. Ah, they are moving on the 28th. Everything in the kitchen will be gone by the 28th is what she means. That’s a lucky day. The Mom had once said that numbers ending in “8” are lucky.
Grandma goes to the stove and grabs something wrapped in aluminum foil. She offers it to me. She points to herself, then the item, then to me. I'm pretty confident she's giving it to me, so I take it. It’s heavy and warm. Thanks, I say, Merry Christmas.
I go back upstairs and into our kitchen. Baby is in the middle of making a traditional Christmas chili. We've been camped out for a few days due to weather and illness. We didn't get a chance to buy any of the usual holiday fare, so chili and pancakes it is.
I set the steaming package on the counter.
What’s that, Baby asks. I believe, I say, it’s a Christmas Yam.
Today I am grateful for the beauty of small gestures.
Happy Holidays to all! Be well and safe! May you all be delivered your own Christmas Yams.
Our front yard, yesterday :-)
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
(Since YouTube is now WIDESCREEN, it doesn't fit in my blogspace any more. Doh!)
If you just love him, his website is Where the Hell is Matt?
And if you want to see an interview with him, check out young VJ Alexandra Liss' Video on SanFranciscoIAM
In particular, what he says at 5:38 about the country of Bhutan is lovely. I had never heard this. Basically the king of Bhutan (they just moved to a democracy recently) decided to measure the prosperity of the country's citizens NOT on economic terms, but by their level of happiness. They have a Gross National Happiness and a Ministry of Happiness.
That is just about the coolest thing I've heard of since I discovered Rob Brezny's book PRONOIA a few months ago. It actually deserves its very own WORD Entry. Perhaps I'll do more on that later. I'd definitely recommend it as a great holiday gift.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
The poem below was inspired by my recent trip to Hawaii, where I swam with sea turtles, and missed my husband back home.
untidying the line between breath
our nightly sculptures mock
light of eternal sunshine
again and again
flying over pele’s mountain
woozy with love
plain and simple
words only jumble the treasure of it
all so godish
a connection of sea turtles
bidding aloha to brackish waters
our tears and kindnesses
mixing gesso on which
their sun-kissed skins
FRIDAY FIVE words last week:
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Being an ex-pat living in Canada, I felt a renewed sense of hope and pride in my home country.
Vancouver celebrated last night, and it wasn't just the Americans living here, either. I was out to dinner with two friends last night. I apologized for being distracted by the election, which was being broadcast on a large screen TV at the restaurant. They laughed and said they were distracted by it, too.
When Obama was announced as the next president, I let out such a loud cheer that everyone in the restaurant laughed. As Obama gave his speech, the owner turned up the television and everyone turned to listen. The wait staff, the kitchen staff, the owners all pulled up chairs and everyone sat, happily stunned. There were even some tears of joy, and they weren't all coming from me. My friend Ami and I held hands tightly, witnessing what everyone knew was an amazing historical moment. I high-fived my waiter on the way out.
I came home to some congratulatory e-mails from friends in other parts of the world. U.S. policy and economics affects the world, that has become very clear in the last eight years. The world was indeed watching last night...
Sunday, October 19, 2008
The poems are posted UNEDITED, because the point of the experiment is to see what your 3:15 mind comes up with in its hypnogogic / hypnopompic state.
(the event at the end of this poem is tragically true, not a nightmare I had)
August 2, 2008
As a way of falling asleep
broken thoughts turn into
automatic images playing
Don’t want to force the images let
them come coaxed like eels
underwater, yes, where preference is usually
blind, but no there is a shock
in life that is unreal
how unreal the story of our lives
when we tell it back gripping I
have become a gripper holding
onto that which made the road here
boyfriends, jobs, speeches, crashes
my heart rips open w/ today’s news
a man beheaded on a bus on his way back
home on a bus across Canada
nobody got up to stop the knife
and would I have been any more
confrontational? faced w/a mad man
would I run?
decapitated, the victim 3 minutes dead
what I imagine is the breath
one minute easing out w/a thought
of someone I love or used
to love 10th grade prom the
sloppy gropings and smiles
breathe one-two the knife descends
like that when did the lights go?
did he know his head was coming off?
did he have a chance a moment to
realize and love his life for
what it was?
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Ironically, being a writer/producer/director, I have never actually edited anything before. All I have on my computer is this extremely limited Windows Movie Maker, but what'cha gonna do... perhaps I'll get inspired and invest in something a little more snazzy.
All wedding pictures taken by Tod McCoy, all other pictures taken by me.
Monday, September 1, 2008
A present beau is a poem you write for someone using only the letters available in their name/s. For instance, in the poem below, I could only use the letters a, b, c, d, e, i, j, l, m, n, o, r, s, u, v, w - which gave the poem a softer tone because it lacked hard letters like t, k, and g.
beau is a poem you write for someone using only the letters available in their name/s. For instance, in the poem below, I could only use the letters
a, b, c, d, e, i, j, l, m, n, o, r, s, u, v, w
- which gave the poem a softer tone because it lacked hard letters like t, k, and g.
Present Beau for Dawn Samuelson and Neven Jambresic
on the occasion of their marriage
aug 31, 2008 - ashford, wa
once in a blue moon
a wondrous love evolves
raw and massive
riddles are balanced
a diorama dances
love’s drums drive rise above
all noise all scars subside
leaves us noble and alive
a sudden call across a room
in seconds loved bloomed
cried dove roamed soared
love drove our
man and woman on
as nervous summer smiles simmered
and wild amour burned
sun and moon and world
embraced lion and lioness
and since love’s sudden wow
our dawn and neven now
vow arrive at wedded bliss
will ever woven become
one sacred river
one sacred road
joined in dream and soul
love’s rare invaluable ode
I'm going to figure out how to post an audio of me reading this poem to this blog. Anyone know how?
I'm going to figure out how to post an audio of me reading this poem to this blog. Anyone know how?
I bet it's easy in wordpress, I'm just too lazy to switch from blogger to wordpress. I'll get around to it someday.
I bet it's easy in wordpress, I'm just too lazy to switch from blogger to wordpress. I'll get around to it someday.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
You can register on line at: www.315experiment.com
If you've never even HEARD of The 3:15 Experiment... where have you BEEN for the last 15 years?
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
In the summertime, there are reruns on television. In that spirit, here are a few of my favourite posts over the last year or so:
From my Thursday Thirteen File
A crazy idea that took me most of the day to post:
13 Pages from 13 Journals
If you like monkeys, you must check out:
Thirteen Sad Monkeys (from Thursday Thirteen)
A Few of my Favourite Writing Exercises:
The "literary definition"
The use of small incidences
Poetry fun you can have with Friends
A Few Favourite Poems:
Something from my Polly Papers
Miranda July Rocks
And lastly... my cats' favourite post
Hope your summer is going well!
Monday, June 23, 2008
The job of a writer is to capture these moments in words and I feel humbled by the task. Words really aren't enough. I want to return to this later and do it justice. For now, this is the fresh version.
once together we
hummingbirds and flamingos
dance on the
twenty-two times around the sun
pressing the rough parts free
the wrinkles and scars
musical notes on the agenda
of repeating the memories
that made us
artistry in life is play my
playmates my moulin rouge
my circle unbroken my song
my mother my poet my
together in the california sun
tears in our bloody marias
pull my finger jesus smiles
pull my finger and
shut the door
at once we children
hold hands at the zoo
in line for the night train
making home where we land
together once there
is no going back we
return to our dream
what is real what
is real our once together
Monday, June 9, 2008
As for the others, I definitely took something away from each. Truby is an excellent lecturer on structure and genre, although a little rigid in his analysis.
For today... you'll have to settle for Poetry in Motion. I really dig this video from VancouverIAM.com. It was created by a student at Vancouver Film School. I've been obsessed with So You Think You Can Dance lately, and the unbelievable control people have over their bodies.
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
Since I missed the Monday Poetry Train, I figured I would give this week's word to Vancouver Director Katrin Bowen and her beautiful video poem Almost Forgot My Bones based on Tanya Evanson's poem of the same name.
Monday, May 26, 2008
When he died at 50 (of a congenital heart defect he knew nothing about), he had come full circle and found peace and happiness in his community.
(The title is in reference to Joseph Campbell's Monomyth, the Hero's Journey)
Separation – Initiation - Return
Joe Strummer lived
the perfect Hero’s Journey
status quo ransacked
when sent to boarding
school the inciting brotherly
suicide the threshold of the
free world trials and allies and
enemies lovers and fans
until finally the belly
of the beast
without a backup band
and the only redemption
to make amends with
all the hippies
he burned fires in circles
after he learned
it’s not places you return to
it’s peace of mind the
final okay I’m here this is it
this is me
and I’d rather be happy
that rock laughing at me
in the shade
we could live that long
and have compassion too
Monday, May 19, 2008
This is a found poem made up of words and phrases from Jill Bolte Taylor's moving talk on T.E.D. called A Stroke of Insight. Click the link and pull up a box of Kleenex.
a stroke of insight
I can no longer identify
the boundaries of
enormous and expansive
disconnected from all chatter
no longer the choreographer
of my life
a sea of silent euphoria
and no way to squeeze
the enormousness of myself
I am the lifeforce power of the universe
with manual dexterity
and two cognitive minds
I am the lifeforce power of the universe
with all that is
Sunday, May 11, 2008
My assignment this time is to go someplace where there are lots of people and just wander around, being quiet, and listening to them all. I think buses are great for this. So are malls. Listen to everyone's pain, fears, worries, suffering, silliness... Your job is to empathize with them all.
I've been having a great time observing others after reading Eckhart Tolle's book A New Earth, which I think is a useful tool for writers. Forget books about writing for a moment and read a book about being a human suffering inside of an ego. Should give you insights for great character development.
During or after you do this listening exercise, write a poem that begins with the lines "I listen..." and see where it takes you.
I listen to angels
on the bus wearing
narrative eyes - I've lost
my fearlessness the charm
of youth once wombed in an
immortality of ideas
I am now offered seats
sweets - and less hours in a day
The bus driver tells me
about how his sister smothered
the dashboard of her car
with stuffed animals
I had a car like that I say
Allen Ginsberg rode shotgun
when I gave him a ride home
from a party
elixired on poetry
an incident my keeper of
A bodhisattva sits next to me
remembering his dinner
Chinese ladies with bags of aluminum cans
chat loudly and the bus lurches
tumbling us madly forward laughing
as we touch - we know
each other now
a bird of souls
a playground of misfits
Sunday, May 4, 2008
Now you can finally see why I have been so insanely busy lately (making for inconsistent blogging).
The first of 25 internet TV sites I am helping to create has launched!
It's less than a week old, so there are still bugs and glitches and funky things going on, as well as changes we just couldn't make in time for our launch. So, we'll be tweaking over the next few months to get everything right.
Each site is locally-based and locally focused. Toronto and Seattle are next.
For some reason, the sound adjuster isn't working on the viewing pages, so you'll have to adjust the sound from your computer.
A few short films that I wrote are posted on the TV IAM portion of the site:
What the Cat Said
And I wrote, produced, and directed the "How To TV AM" video, which is about creating video citizen journalism (Click on the pink How To TV IAM graphic)
Word is getting out, people are excited about participating and love the look. I can`t wait to start on the next city!
So, no poem today... but at least I`m getting sleep again. :-)
Sunday, April 27, 2008
This festival has a special place in my heart simply due to the number of people from my past who haunt it. It's always a reunion. This year I marveled over how many of them I've known for 10 or more years. Anne Waldman, Judith Roche, Paul Hunter, Paul Nelson, Clarice Keegan, Heather Haley, Charles Potts, Amalio Madueno... und so weiter... so many more I can't even list. Cheers to you all for being a part of the who I am now.
I had the pleasure of MCing the Vancouver stage & open mic and one of the workshops. I wrote the following poem in that workshop, although it's already been through a few incarnations.
losing the hammer-will
we have no will
to hammer the hills
tell each other as
drakes chase ducks
around the pond
and into the parking lot
angels in loose clothing
hum fatly the drums
in the day - -
Hop on the Poetry Train and have a super week.
Monday, April 14, 2008
Here's a fresh one from last week (when it was still cloudy and rainy).
I'm writing poetry again... hooray.
No matter my inner
chaos - the birds go on
with their lives
cats too, sometimes
all 9 at once
under the roof chicks
have hatched into
gray spring - the
big-headed tomcat skulks
down the cracked
Notebooks coffee my morning
I embrace words high
sages have warned me
not to use - I choose
emotion over intellect and
the letters get all curly
like a school girl's locker
Beyond that meadow
of voice all is right
with the world - I'm still here
behind the traffic of ego
in the lush cemetery of dreams
laughing - just laughing
my id off
Have an superlicious week!
Sunday, March 30, 2008
This is the last assignment for the Wishes, Lies, and Dreams portion of the Weekend Workout. Thanks Puget Sound Community School, for playing along.
"Calling" is a form of wishing. We call for help. We call for something larger than ourselves, to connect with something larger for ourselves. Sometimes our calls are simply pleas to something beautiful, something simple and pure, because we know we are flawed.
I think this exercise is best done outside. A quiet spot is better, but I did this one on my back porch with the traffic outside and all the telephone wires hanging like laundry lines.
In this exercise, you just get quiet for a few minutes, and then look around you and find something in nature to be "in awe" with.
After having a few moments of "awe," call out to this thing. When you call, speak on behalf of yourself as a human existing on the planet. Think about your time on the earth compared to its. Think that you can learn something from it. Listen to what it teaches you.
You literally start this poem with "I call to..." and then ride the call like wind and see where it takes you. This is a very "stream of consciousness" kind of poem and I'm looking forward to seeing where you all land with it.
I call to the snowcapped blue
mountains Tuesday morning the
river of cars buoys ex-pedestrians
to the city
each vying for some heart
as if there weren't enough
to go around
Black crows on the wire
identify each other by instinct
while we do by hairstyles and
I call to my people
follow through on your dreams
look the squeegee kids
in the eyes say
hello and thank you
like the magic you do
of losing your flock
Monday, March 24, 2008
First, some most excellent news... I finished the first draft of my second novel. Sure feels good. And it doesn't totally suck! Sure, it needs some love, but for the most part, I'm just glad I've got a full draft to work with. I think the real magic is in the editing...
So, tonight, in celebration, I wrote an original poem. This is about as hot off the press as they get.
It doesn't even have a title yet.
The dramaturge sits in his oafish chair
beard in breath
wrangling his metaphors
he wants demonstration not simple words
the bee bigger than life
just because you say a red bird
doesn't mean it can't speak
The puppeteer, too, wants a larger role
and the woman behind the bar
the audience in a slow suicide
wanders home past the
the bearded critic
and goes to bed
dreaming of the speed of light
And speaking of dreaming... I should get to bed myself.
Saturday, March 22, 2008
I've been spending more time on wishes and dreams, so I though it was time for some more lies. Or, at least not exactly the truth... How many of you have been in a situation where you don't know the answer to something, and rather than admitting you don't know, you make something up? Little kids tend to do this a lot, but I bet adults do, too.
Then again, some questions are simply unanswerable...
INTERVIEWING OBJECTSI decided this week to take one of my favourite writing exercises and give it a little bit of a twist.
For this exercise, everyone in the class/group needs to put a few objects on the table. I like a balance of natural objects and man-made objects, so perhaps each students could get one of each. I've used bricks, rocks, tree bark, glasses, pens, shoes, keys, flowers, a bottle of water, anything will work, really.
Pick three objects that you will use for this exercise. Pick at least one natural object and one man-made object.
Write a question at the top of your page. It is important that the question be open ended rather than yes/no or answerable in one word. Examples would be:
Why is the sky blue?
Why does rain make people sad?
What is space made of?
How do birds stay in the air?
What is fame? love? war?
Why must we grow up?
What you will do is ask each of these objects your question and they will answer you in the form of a list poem. Keep in mind, though, that your object doesn't really know the answer to the question, so it makes the answer up.
Why would the object make up the answer? I suppose it depends upon the personality of the object. It's too egotistical to admit it doesn't know, it's afraid to tell you it doesn't know, it's ashamed it doesn't know, it thinks it should know, etc.
The challenge is in keeping the object's perspective in mind as it answers your question. Remember, it has a skewed and limited view of the world.
Set a timer for 3-5 minutes. Have the first object answer your question. Start each line of the poem in the same manner to give it repetition. You will do this with each object so that at the end you will have 3 stanzas.
(objects: bark, popsicle stick, brick)
Why Can't I Sleep at Night?
Because you dream of chainsaws
Because you worry about nesting birds
Because your grandparents are sleeping next to you
Because the seasons make you tired
Because you dream of teeth
Because you are disposable
Because you have forgotten your childhood
Because you aren't finished yet
Because you dream of wild oceans
Because you want to grow arms, legs, or vines
Because there is something blocking the door
Because grey isn't your favorite color
I like that this one repeats the "because" each line and each stanza begins with the same idea, that there is some dream involved.
Now you can turn it around and have the objects ask YOU a question. Meaning, each object asks you the same question, and you answer it for them. You can use the same objects in the first exercise or different ones. You can ask the same question, or try a new one.
Why would you make up the answer or lie to this object? Maybe you are teasing it, maybe you have an attitude. You can decide to tell the object what you think it wants to hear, what it needs to hear, try to convince it of something, or assuage its fears.
(objects - pen, leaf, shoe)
What is love?
It is straight lines and no smudges
It is unmailed letters in a drawer
It is being both right and left handed
It is learning to write your name
It is straight branches and no bird poop
It is unwritten graffiti in someone's mind
It is having branches on the east and west side of the trunk
It is leaning to fall
It is straight lines down a car-free road
It is unopened boxes of fluevogs
It is having socks for every occasion
It is learning to walk
Have fun with this! I've always gotten really interesting results from this exercise.
Monday, March 17, 2008
I tried to find the oldest unpublished poem on this computer that was worth sharing.
This one is 10 years old, when I was traveling in and out of a very long "broken-heart-dark-night-of-the soul" phase in my life. Yeah, we all have at least one of those. I'll spare you from any of the overly-maudlin or overly-philosophical ones.
I've always kinda liked this one, though, not sure why I never published it.
I have never held breath like your intake silence
how can I not love you in your way that
Gemini arm’s-length seduction
eaten with one cannibal cry
how like you to slide between the remains
renaming parts of me turned to dust
1:37 AM won’t stand in front of you
won’t beckon the curtains
draw runes from a black bag
everything about the air rings warning
this is my life this is my life this is my life - but
mantra is weak logic with you fresh on my skin
your passing fancy held onto for lack of better touch
leaves no tomorrow to teach you interpretations of such
Feels good to be back on the train, even if it has been regurgitated material these past two weeks.
Saturday, March 15, 2008
To see a World in a Grain of SandOften times in my workshops I ask my students to go "small." What I mean is that picking large, abstract topics to write about (like love, loss, war) can lead to cliche and vague poems. When you focus on the details of life, and think in concrete images, the more abstract will emerge. You can start off writing a poem about a snail and get to a poem about love. The poem's meaning will come through the objects themselves.
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.
When you want to write about loss, don't try to explain loss, don't tell me what loss is, show me loss. Think of images of loss. And start small.
Part #1 - Find a small moment
In my adult workshops I ask participants to go outside and find the smallest "political" moment they can. There are a lot of politics in small things. Politics means the use "of intrigue or strategy in obtaining any position of power or control." Do the cats in your neighborhood vie for control? Do the leaves? Does the wind?
If you find the idea of the "politics" of things too difficult, simply watch small things in action. Watch the wind blow the seeds off a dandelion. I like watching the pigeons gather on the roof of the tallest house on my block.
In the first part of this exercise, go outside and find this small moment and describe it. This can be done in poetry or prose. DESCRIBE and don't judge or try to make it mean anything. Then, after you've done that for a few lines, look around the object and see how it interacts with the other things around it.
(Thanks to one of my Creative Writing for Children (age 14) participants for the below examples)
The Top Leaf
The top leaf hides in the gray sky with a sigh
above all the other leaves, pointing to the sky
in between winter and spring it beats
its own drum, no wind, no rain, no tide
A plane buzzes overhead, a gull cries
the leaf stares straight up, holding a bud
that no one will ever see, except me
writing in my blue notebook, looking
for the mystery of small things
Part #2 - The Dreams of Small Things
Now that you've made friends with your leaf, or dandelion, or spider, or bird - go one step further and put yourself in the place of your object. Live like the object, and dream what the object dreams. Remember to use its surroundings.
If you'd like, you can use the start line "In my dreams..."
The Dreams of Leaves
In my dreams, at the top of the world, I open
my bud and bloom all year round, soaking the sun
up and never getting wrinkles
The gulls flock overhead in V-formation, calling down to me
an invitation to the beach
One plucks me in its beak and we fly to the shore
the wind laughing in my skin
as airplanes soar, caring for
passengers traveling to distant lands
I fall to the sand, as the gull gets bored
The waves tease slowly and grow
lifting me up to float
through the night by the moon's glow
through the day by the sun's gloat
I am golden and lost, like a delicate
NOTE: I did not make rhyming a necessity for this poem, my student discovered that herself. I like the way it moves in and out of an unpredictable rhyme pattern.
Have a great weekend!
Sunday, March 9, 2008
In the middle of all this, my computer went KAPUT! I thought all my poetry was lost, but a friend saved my hard drive (NOTE: backup your hard drive on a regular basis, people!)
I dug my old PC out of storage and am writing on that now. Feels so archaic, haha. It's about eight years old.
In honour of my old 'puter, I dug up an eight year old poem, never published (never happy with it I guess), written while I was living in Prague. I was writing poetry pretty much everyday while I lived there. Wow, it all seems a lifetime ago...
July 28, 2000
i’ve attached myself
to the way space
when everything flames
carries you away to burn
in a new direction for a while
last night we cooked fancy meals
veggie burgers rice wine greek salad ice cream
with blueberries strong coffee
in the morning omelets with creamed spinach
for late lunch blueberry pancakes and
in that determination bought bus tickets for
craving at least one day of sun and beach
for all the dark rainy days July has brought
suddenly i’m on vacation
or pre-writing as Bernadette calls it
which is anything you do when you’re
it's all about mortality
or why we need to love
i’ve become afraid of flying
smoking cigarettes instead
there is so much smoking time here
it passes the meantimes between rational fears
Have a great week, everyone!