Results of a Creative Colloquy Workshop

Results of a Creative Colloquy Workshop

Creative Colloquy has adapted well to the covid-19 shut-in lifestyle so many of us have found ourselves in this past year. They’ve hosted online readings, workshops and other gatherings. I’ve been participating in everyone I can schedule myself for, which is 100% more than I had been attending when the events were hosted at brick-and-mortar locations in Tacoma. Last night, the event was a workshop led by the new Tacoma Poet-Laureate Lydia K. Valentine. She led us through a series of activities meant to stimulate our poetic creativity on the theme of Poetry as Protest, as Proclamation, as Prayer.

First I want to say, her poetry is magic. A direct and honest magic that gets your attention and worms its way into your head and heart. She read pieces of her poetry and shared some other work to illustrate the ideas she wanted us to explore.

I do not call myself a poet. Poetry is not my main gig, not my comfort zone. That said, being around poets and slipping into the mindset of poetic expression often results in me writing some poetry. So it was last night. I wanted to share some of what resulted with you. These are rough, stream-of-the-moment pieces that I haven’t edited. I share them to show what can happen in these workshops and because I’m always a little tickled by anything poem-like I produce.

First prompt: write words and lines that relate to something going on with us lately; about a person, idea or other. I went with other. Some of what I wrote: maze shifting ground, path appearing then disappearing, feeling of grip failing, loss of stability, loss of certainty, sense of failure.

Next: take one word or phrase and build something off of it.

Shifting ground like a series of people movers

at right angles

constantly relocating

A path appears and disappears

a mirage

a dream

a lie

Can you guess what I was writing about? Maybe, maybe not. I was wrote that after a day of feeling frustrated at yet more change in the schedule of ‘school as it is right now’, the lack of clear schedule info for my kid, and the promise that it will be changing again in a couple of weeks. Of course, it could as easily be about life during the pandemic.

Myself and two others volunteered to read their pieces. Lydia lifted a line from each and asked us to choose one to do more work with. I struggled with this, though the line I chose ‘an electric guitar of a smile’ was very intriguing. I ended up writing a bunch of lines I mostly didn’t care for and these two which I thought were OK.

The warm bread mouthful of calm certainty

Uncertainty like an itch I can’t reach

I sense a theme, don’t you?

She read us a poem she’d written that has within it a section written in first person by a voice other than the one the poem initially starts with, and an embodiment of the subject of the poem. She invited us to write in the voice of that which we had been writing about.

you come at me

with accusations

blame me for

your frustration and fear

how is it my fault?

I am the only constant this world knows –

the stillness of continuous motion –

change

you can’t destroy me

you can only match my stride

put on your running shoes

Lydia shared a poem about carrying grief, and then asked us to write about carrying grief or difficulty or fear or…

What is it like to carry the burden

and weight of

grief fear death

helplessness

the continual deaths of Black people

My fingers have gone numb

I don’t put the box down

even if I can’t feel them

my fingers are locked in place

can’t let it go even if I wanted to

or maybe I could if my heart went

numb as well

If I didn’t feel the ache like a

phantom limb for each

loss

If I didn’t feel the heart-jolt

at losses that would bring

me to my knees if

they were my own

Better numb fingers still holding

than a numb heart no longer feelings

The next prompt was to write something using the words we started with “This is my protest, this is my proclamation, this is my prayer”. This is what I came up with:

No one should have to work to live

this is my proclamation

No one should have to prove worthiness for a full belly

this is my proclamation

No one should have to choose dying of hunger over dying of disease

this is my proclamation

No one should be denied life over something as trivial as money

this is my protest

Living is what we all deserve

this is my prayer

Food should easier to find than old pennies on the sidewalk, and just as free

this is my prayer

Shelter from the elements is a basic right and should not be capitalized

this is my prayer

The workshop was a wonderful way to spend part of my evening. If my recap has piqued your interest, please visit CreativeColloquy.com and see what else the group is doing and offering, including the Writer’s Workshop Series. This group is led and nourished by Jackie Cassella.

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