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Posts Tagged ‘Acadiana Wordlab’

Slice of Life Challenge Day 10

Slice of Life Challenge Day 10

The candle

The candle

At the Acadiana Wordlab yesterday, Kelly Clayton put ordinary objects on the table. Actually, some of the objects were quite weird, like the two orange plastic Neanderthal men. She called this prompt “Object Lesson.” I think she got it from Writing Alone and with Others by Pat Schneider. We had to select an object and write 10 stanzas of three lines each. It reminded me of Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird by Wallace Stevens. My photo above is not the greatest, but you can see some of the other objects in the background.

I. Candle on a string
once you were two
and dipped.

II. White wax
nondescript
unscented
waiting to be lit.

III. Standing in a circle
side by side
sisters pass you around,
an ancient ritual.

IV. Set in a wreath,
counting the days
until a Savior’s birth.

V. Darkness is not dark
unless the light
knows it.

VI. Melted and scripted
with a kistka* and a steady hand,
dying reveals patterns.

VII. I will tuck you away
in my purse
in case the lights go out.

VIII. Tasting with a lick,
smooth and waxy,
reminds me of waxed lips.

IX. Wedged in a bottle
adorned with drippings,
you light our Italian meal.

X. The slight wind
created by your flame
can lift a whole balloon.

Pysanky making

Pysanky making

*After the wordlab, I attended Art Walk and met a Slavic woman who had a show of her Pysanky eggs. Her husband was demonstrating the process using a stylus called a kistka. I had to add that to my poem. Pysanky is the ancient Eastern European art of egg decorating. The name comes from the verb to write, as you use a stylus (called a kistka) to write with wax on the egg shell. The process is similar to batik.

Pysanky egg by Nicole Holcombe

Pysanky egg by Nicole Holcombe

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Slice of Life Challenge Day 5

Slice of Life Challenge Day 5

On Saturday, I attended the Acadiana Word Lab again. This was my third Saturday to attend. Each week is a new presenter, and each week, different people attend. I am meeting new people and learning to be braver with my writing. The point is to write a rough draft in response to the presenter’s prompts. We usually do 2-3 short writing periods. Then share…it’s all part of it. This weekend I felt intimidated by the confident writers I sat with. But when I read the following response, I heard someone whisper, “Excellent!” Wow! Just what I needed to hear that day. I’m not so sure this poem measures up to her exclamation, but I’ll take it anyway. The prompt was to write about a dream you never had.

clouds

The Dream I Never Had

I have never flown in my dreams.
I want to feel this free–
Oh, in the arms of Superman,
or on the magic carpet with Alladin,
on the wings of an eagle,
better yet–be the eagle–
soar, swoop,
slide across the clouds,
circle the moon.
Fly? Me? No!

I dream of children’s voices,
lost keys,
closed locks,
smothering.

My daughter once wrote a dream blog.
Her dreams were like wild fairy tales.
I want to dream like she dreams.

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Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge

Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge

Welcome to March and the month of the Slice of Life Challenge! The Two Writing Teachers have challenged me once again to write every day in March. My students will be participating, too at their blog site, Slice of Life Challenge. Please stop by and make a comment or two. They love visitors.

It is also Poetry Friday. For more of the round-up, go to Julie Larios’ site The Drift Record.

Last weekend I attended a Wordlab writing workshop. My friend and fellow poet, Diane Moore, led the writing prompts. She showed us the painting below. This is Lovensky. She was born with AIDS in Haiti. She died not long after Barbara Hughes visited the orphanage and was moved to paint her portrait. Diane shared her own poem, reprinted here with permission. The poem appears in her collection, Alchemy. I wrote a poem to the painting during Diane’s workshop.

Lovensky by Barbara Hughes

Lovensky by Barbara Hughes

LOVENSKY
(Upon viewing a painting of a child in Haiti, rendered by Barbara Hughes)

My mother passed her AIDS to me,
wishing me to be blind
so I could not see the wretchedness
in the streets of Cite’ Soleil;
my one good eye watches a shadowy face,
a woman smiling at me,
her wide mouth opening and closing,
murmuring like a dove circling my crib,
and my hands close around happiness.
I embrace her.

l cannot perceive the future
although I dream under a pink washcloth
that unburdens my many fevers.
I did not see Haiti’s trees felled
or the disappearance of the Creole pigs,
the hilly streets filled with sewage,
but I can smell the sweetness of orange blossoms
and Sister tells me she placed
a white orchid in my crib.

The wings of invisible forces brush by me,
I see stars I have never seen
on the ceiling of my memory.
I had a mother and a father and lost them,
believed in no one until I came here,
everything through a glass darkened.
Before that, I lived
in the footsteps of dying children
who left their auras behind,
silver dust that shimmers
in the dark air of Port au Prince.

Once I dreamed of kindness,
now I lie in its blue blanket,
listening to the bell of Sister’s laughter
and the echoes of my own,
to stories about my father’s place,
the one of many mansions.
We all know our destiny because we love,
Sister sings to me:
our spirits burn with visions of God
and the brilliance of heaven.
Because we love
we know this place of many mansions,
one of them is yours.

With my toes clasped in my hands,
one eye closed against the suffering,
I long to make my voice speak,
to tell her how deeply I hope
for the liberation of resurrection,
equality and harmony seated at a table
in one small room
filled with unfailing light.
Diane Moore, all rights reserved

My version:

Lovensky

The heat of your soul,
your fever, warms the blue blanket
you have tangled yourself into.
You cannot see me,
yet you cock your head
to hear my lullaby.
I am not your mother.

You grab your toe
as any infant would,
exploring your new world.
I want to hold you,
take away your mother’s curse,
the fever that seeps into your veins.
I want to walk with you in the garden
to smell the sweet olive,
give you a taste of sweet honey.

I cannot tear you
from the page you are painted on.
I can only love the pink towel
on your forehead,
the white diaper hugging your brown legs.
I can love the God who made you
and holds you now..

in your blue wings.

-Margaret Simon, all rights reserved

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Read other Slice of Life writers at The Two Writing Teachers

Read other Slice of Life writers at The Two Writing Teachers

The last two Saturdays, I have attended the Acadiana Wordlab, an open and free writer’s workshop. Last Saturday, the workshop was led by Jonathan Penton of the online journal, Unlikely Stories. Jonathan read a selection, then we wrote for about 20 minutes and shared our raw writing. Then did the process again. I like the way these workshops stretch me to write out of my comfort zone, to explore something new.

After hearing a selection from Philip Roth, I wrote the following using a line I heard.

Nothing, you say?

Nothing is never nothing.
It is always something.
Something isn’t anything.
It is always that one thing,
that one annoying aggravation that sends
you over the edge, so you say things,
so many things yelled out with no
grounds, no real sense of what
the thing really is.

Nothing sets us off quite like
that thing
all the way back in your childhood,
that one something
you couldn’t have,
but you knew it was never nothing
and it leads to everything.

This past Saturday, Diane Moore led the Wordlab exploration. Her first exercise asked us to reflect on two paintings of children from an orphanage in Haiti. These were powerful images that led to some deeply reflective and sad writing. Her second exercise included a funny story about her family’s trip across the Western U.S. in the 1940s. Her mother collected postcards from the trip, beautiful hand-painted watercolor on linen. This led to writings about travel and memories. Clare Martin wrote this post about seeing a winged monkey at Cypremort Point.

I plan to go back to the Acadiana Wordlab this weekend and explore more writing ideas. You never know where the muse is coming from…

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