Today, I want to reach out to you with a creative challenge. Before I share this, allow me to give you a little anecdotal context.
Although I am no expert, I find the process of writing rewarding. All kinds of writing. I am never happier than when I’m sitting, with a sense of purpose, waiting for the words to come. Although writing can seem daunting, freeing yourself from the burden of too many expectations can yield unexpected results.
It is the blankness of a page or a screen, which then changes and takes on life, once it is covered with your words, that is so uniquely satisfying.
I have spent many family Christmases and get-togethers, urging relatives to get involved in group stories, inventing mini speech competitions, and challenging them to write festive limericks and haiku. At times, admittedly, I have been met with reluctance. Invariably though, we have had fun.
My son and I shared an unexpected, lovely moment (among the many lovely moments we have had throughout our lives together) when we both had horrible sinus infections, the autumn before last.
In an effort to lesson our misery, as way lay on our respective sofas, I encouraged him to try writing with me.
I introduced him to a type of ‘Beat Poetry’ that I had the fortune to attempt writing myself in an English tutorial with the late poet, Kenneth Koch, of the New York School of Poetry, when he visited our university, around twenty years ago.
“I am a writer who likes to be influenced.”Kenneth Koch
I still remember my sense of surprise at his approach. He asked each of us in the tutorial (we were eight, including our Professor) to randomly donate the first words that popped into our heads.I remember several of them yet- iridescent; chewing-gum; pigeon!
They were an arbitrary mix of words- some vividly descriptive, some mundane, yet all were incorporated into a scribbled chalkboard list, to function as the impetus for our writing.
We had to write poems- our only constraint (there were no dictates of rhyme or rhythm) was that the list of eight words had to appear, in order, in an eight line poem, one (anywhere) per line.
The process, when I first encountered it, was liberating. The strange list of words engendered their own story within the creative process of each writer there. The poems at the end of the session were fresh, original, and shared proudly.
My son also enjoyed the process when I recalled it for him. We had fun speed- brainstorming the random list of words. Initially lacking confidence in his ability to write, he quickly grew in belief and produced some powerful poetry that he felt proud of. I was so happy to share the process with him.
And, I would love to take part in this process again. I am reaching out to you, fellow bloggers, and much-appreciated followers of my fledging blog, to write, and post, some poetry!
I used randomwordgenerator.com to donate a list of eight words for this fun and freeing poetry process. Here they are:
Have a go! Use them in your own piece of poetry (free verse or otherwise!) and post your poem in the comments. Let’s share the joy of writing, and of poetry, together!