Weekend Workout: Wine Tasting Poem

Gwendolyn Alley and I developed this exercise for our “Message in a Bottle” writing workshop last month. Half of the workshop took place at the Channel Islands Visitor Center, the other half at Old Creek Ranch Winery. The idea is to taste a particular glass of wine and answer the questions below in the form of a poem. Take your time with the lines if they lead you somewhere. Feel free to change, discard, or add your own questions. We planned the questions to go from “logical” questions when tasting wine to more abstract. We recommend tasting and writing it as a group (using the same wine) and then sharing the poems. And, of course, feel free to edit it into whatever you want it to be. You can certainly do this exercise with any other...

More Her Red Book, Too

I’ve continued my Her Red Book, Too Ritual almost every day since I gave the assignment as a weekend workout. I don’t know how long I’ll continue. Perhaps until my book tour. Perhaps until I have enough material for a whole new book! All I know is that the results have been pleasantly surprising considering my whole life right now is working from home on my book marketing/touring strategies. I mean there’s not a lot of drama going on other than in my head, so I have to make use of the mundane. Like writing about the crows daily migration east to west and back again. = On the Morning of the Crow Migration She does not recall when began her fascination with birds Prehistoric miracles   defying the mundane It could have been when she settled...

Monday Potes (on Tuesday, of course!): On the Day of the Bicycle Mammogram

A few weeks ago I gave a weekend workout assignment that I enjoyed so much I haven’t stopped. It was a writing ritual I had created for myself 9 years ago that became the manuscript for my chapbook Her Red Book. Once I got back into the ritual (very basically: writing in 3rd person early in the morning and just before going to bed, and always titling it FIRST with On the Day of, On the Night of, On the Morning of. . . etc) I quickly realized what a gem it was and couldn’t believe it had taken me so many years to try it again. I’ve wracked up several of them that I’m already editing and have decided to post a few, even though they still feel a bit precious. On the Day of the Bicycle Mammogram She rides on an uneven day west a straight shot...

Weekend Workout: On the Night of Recreating a Ritual

(UPDATE (Feb 5) – I just started this workout and I have to say I am amazed and loving it. I think the combination of the ritual of writing first thing and last thing each day, introducing the piece through the “title” ritual, and writing 3rd person about oneself somehow draws deeper meaning from what could be seen as very ordinary experiences) A big thank you to Gautami Tripathy for reminding me about Marvin Bell, who I hadn’t read in a long while. She was experiencing some writer’s block and Big Tent Poetry suggested their readers write versions of Bell’s Dead Man Poems (click on links for examples). Dead man poems come out of an old Zen admonition that says, “Live as if you were already dead.” But you needn’t feel remorse....

Thought About You

Okay, a singularly unoriginal title for my experiment. The last writing workout was writing about loss. I had wanted to write a poem for a friend on the anniversary of her death, so I experimented by writing snippets, thoughts, images, mememories of her out on cards over the whole weekend and then collaging them into a poem. At one point I had gone out for the evening and forgot that I was “remembering” Gabrielle over the weekend until the next morning, then felt guilty for forgetting. So that’s in here, too. Thought About You For Gabrielle Bouliane, One Year Gone I’m done baking and remember you. Remember that I’m supposed to be remembering. I want to say I’m sorry for every minute gone by, but that is mortal guilt and not for angels or...

Weekend Workout: Writing About Loss

I’m sure I’m not the only one who finds it challenging to write a satisfying poem about a loved one who has died. What words can fill the space the person held? In honour of dear friend and poet Gabrielle Bouliane, who died of cancer one year ago today, I wanted to write something to/for her this weekend. This workout is something I’ve never tried before, so I’m experimenting with it. I’ll post the results after the weekend. Instead of sitting down to write a poem or letter or story in one go, eeking out inadequate language for a heart-ripping loss, I’m going to keep Gabrielle in my thoughts all weekend and carry several index cards with me wherever I go. Any time a thought or vision or image or anecdote comes to mind, I’ll write it on a card. It doesn’t matter...