I am hypersensitive lunar extractions breathing nervous pebbles.
I am coiled orbits spiraling in a heartsick terrain.
I am not harboring pent up pangs of pinging pink pinnacles.
I love coral mistakes conceived in a cosmic sea of magnetized mollusks.
I hate digging dirges and wallowing in horse quartz.
I come from phosphorescent sky murmurs, sacred circles suspended in space-grace.
I remember cherishing bliss in vast woven zones.
I forget clotted expressions of tangled parachutes conceiving bamboo in botched buckets of blame.
My heart says velvety vistas sistered up the sun while curious harps spooned beneath borrowed buttons.
My mind says sync up, butter dove, the elf owl is emperor now.
The moon says meet me in the kaleidoscopic dimensions of yes near Hallelujah Junction.
The river says semi-succulent dagger yuccas are smuggling horse crippler tonight.
Come back to me Tripoli, tuffed upthrows of arroyos.
I can't give you up saw-toothed suffering, lost box of barbed hoarfrost.
I attended a free poetry writing workshop yesterday led by Chico poet Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge, author of poemcrazy: freeing your life with words.
She had several books by different authors and poets spread out on the tables where we were sitting. She provided stacks of scrap paper and instructed us to create a "wordpool" by "stealing" words from the books spread out before us and jotting them down on the pages of scrap paper. The book I grabbed was Cosmicomics by Italo Calvino. I skimmed the pages and jotted down words that appealed to me: somersault, gravity, heartsick, harpoon, vistas and many other words until I had filled up two pages with words for my "wordpool." Then she had us shout out samples of words from our word-pools and she wrote them on a giant pad of paper held up by an easel. She added in some of her own words that came to her spontaneously.
She read a snippet of e.e. cummings to get us the mood to play with words: "What of a much of a which of a wind." She read an couple of random sentences from James Joyce's Finnegans Wake to show us how one of the greatest books of the 20th century was just Joyce playing with words: "He winged away on a wildgoup's chase across the kathartic ocean and made synthetic ink and sensitive paper for his own end out of his wit's waste."
Then she wrote the following on the easel pad:
I am not
I come from
My heart says
My mind says
The moon says
The river says
Come back to me
I can't give you up
She instructed us to complete these sentences by playing with and stringing together words from our wordpools. Did you hear that, play with words. Play!
While we were writing she went around the room and dropped off pages ripped from an old dictionary and handfuls of tickets on which she had taped random words, to increase our wordpool in case we needed something randomly fresh.
Since the artistic gift of permission to play was fresh in my mind, I felt completely open and ready. Ink flowed steadily and without hesitation from my pen as I completed the sentences she had given us with words from my wordpool. After about 15 or 20 minutes she stopped us and went around the room reading out loud to the group what each person (who was willing to share) had written. It was so fun and inspiring hearing the combination of words each participant had strung together. We were all kind-of in awe of each other and ourselves when we heard her read back to us what we had written.
She told us that she has done this workshop with kids in juvenile detention centers and high school students and some of them have produced award-winning poems from her workshops, kids who didn't even know they could write poetry because they had never been given permission to play with words.
Here are a few other note-worthy things she shared:
The strongest words are words that are both nouns and verbs, like punch, trick, tattoo, fuel, flag, barb, etc.
She encouraged us to learn some of the words spoken by the native people where you live and incorporate them into your writing. The Maidu that were native to the Chico area called the sun, simpoko and the moon pompoko. She suggested other great sources to "steal" words from for your "wordpool" such as field guides for birds, insects or mushrooms. I think maps and travel books are also great. Did you know there really is a place in northern California called "Hallelujah Junction?" There's also an area called "Dagger Flat" and a little town in Indiana named "Young America."
That night, after the workshop, I pulled some natural history books and field guides from my book shelf and added another three pages to my word pool. I re-worked what I had written during the workshop, switching some words out for words from my newer, bigger pool.
Her book poemcrazy: freeing your life with words is phenomenal and I highly recommend it. If the spirit moves you, I challenge you to grab some books and create your own word-pool and play with words by completing the same sentences she gave us (listed above). Come on, do it! Play with me, friends.