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Are You Feeling Poetic, Punk?

February 27, 2011

A Fistful of Poems

This weekend, I attended a one day poetry workshop called A Fistful of Poems,  presented by poets Sandra Kasturi and David Click. It was an intense day of writing exercises and poetry, done in 5 and 10 minute segments. Exercises ranged from using a line from a novel and writing a poem about it to taking a page from the dictionary and using every word in that order in a poem.

Full disclosure: I am not a poet although I’ve written the occasional poem. I can’t tell a iambic pentameter from, well anything, but I was well prepared to be bad. Really bad. Horribly bad. In the introductions, I mentioned how bad I was aiming to be. So why if I expected to be so bad would I consider taking a poetry workshop?

Simple. I wanted to stretch myself with my writing and free my mind to play. Since I didn’t expect my poetry to be good, it took the pressure off and allowed me to relax, to be playful and have fun. I didn’t have to worry about trying to make my poetry salable or even vaguely readable! I could just relax and allow my mind to let go and be silly or serious.

One of the interesting things I noticed was how I couldn’t stop writing in sentences! Around me, the actual poets used one or two precise words to evoke images. My prose-oriented brain kept spilling out sentences even when I tried to be concise.

It was great fun to write in a group and listen to what other people were coming up with for each exercise. Not everyone read their work every time but there was enough variety to showcase each individual’s talent and hard work. I was inspired by all the great stuff flowing out around me!

The one thing I didn’t expect was how exhausted I would be afterward. I hadn’t anticipated the intensity of the work. Who would think poetry would be so much work and so bad ass? We completed about 20 exercises in the day and my brain was toast! By 3:30, I could tell my mind was starting to seize up but I pushed on. No poetry exercise was gonna get the better of me, punk!

So would I do it again? Hell, yes! It was invigorating and exciting to just let the words flow, to push past barriers in my own head and allow myself to play and have fun. So often in writing, it can be too easy to push too hard to make my work the best it can be and forget to let myself enjoy it. This poetry workshop gave me the opportunity to play with language and be inspired by the marvelous work going on around me. So a great big thank you to Sandra and David for facilitating a terrific workshop. I’m feelin’ just a tad more poetic today. So bring it, punk!

And for a special treat, one of my poems from the day!

Squirreling Away

Don’t go tellin’ anybody, not even God,
said the squirrel
as he covered the acorn
with brittle, dying leaves.
The tree stayed silent,
its branch drip dripping
the afternoon rain
like splotches of blood-tears
on the sodden ground.

The squirrel scurried away
relieved at the tree’s silent ascent.
He couldn’t trust nobody not to
steal his precious food
in the coming desert of winter.
But he knew God would ignore the nut
because at all of their monthly poker games,
God had always preferred

4 Comments leave one →
  1. March 5, 2011 10:21 pm

    Chuckle. Talk about an intimate relationship with God. I like.
    I’m fond of Sandra Kasturi’s poems. Thanks for this take on her workshp.

    • March 5, 2011 10:31 pm

      Thanks! I definitely can’t call myself a poet but I had a great time at the workshop. Very intense and a great workout for the writing muscle in a completely different way than the norm for me. I would do it again and recommend something like that for any writer, to stretch out of the normal comfort zone and explore a completely different form of writing. It doesn’t mean you have to stay there but I do think it can add something to your regular writing. Thanks for your comment!

  2. March 25, 2011 10:08 pm

    I love the sound of those exercises and how you allowed yourself to play. I also like how the poets used their words economically–and, of course, your poem! Thanks for sharing.

    • March 26, 2011 1:02 am

      The exercises were terrific. A real push out of my comfort zone and just being pushed to write IMMEDIATELY is a challenge. I recommend it to anyone who wants to challenge themselves and their writing. I felt totally inept compared to the real poets there but I had a great time and would certainly do it again! Thanks for your comment!

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