Over at Tweetspeak Poetry today, we’re embarking on a weekly discussion of poemcrazy: Freeing Your Life with Words by Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge. It’s about poetry, and creativity, and words (of course). The book is divided into five sections – convenient for five Wednesday discussions in April. And it’s chock full of practical exercises.
Well, mostly practical exercises.
I read each chapter (they’re short) and looked through each of the exercises, trying to select one I could write about.
Like write words on slips of paper, and make tickets out them, hanging them from lamps, shelves, paintings, kitchen utensils and other convenient spaces around the house. Or put the slips of paper into boxes, and place the boxes around the house, pulling out a word now and then and having a discussion.
Obviously, Susan Wooldridge doesn’t know my wife.
“What is THAT?” she would ask, pointing.
“THAT,” I would proudly say, “is one of my word tickets.”
“It’s hanging from the dining room chandelier,” she would say.
“Yes,” I’d nod. “It’s about creativity. Think of the fun discussions we’ll have about words as we dine.”
Later, after being discharged from the hospital, I would dutifully remove all the word tickets hanging around the house.
Another possibility: Go outside, and name everything. And I thought, why not? It’s been three years since the last time I communed with my garden (as urged by L.L. Barkat in God in the Yard).
“Hey, Young,” the neighbor would say, “whatcha doing?”
“I’m naming everything in the garden.”
“Doesn’t everything already have a name?” he’d say.
“Yes,” I’d reply, “but not a personal name. Like this hydrangea here. Doesn’t it look like a Betty?”
“Definitely a Betty. And this river birch looks every inch like a Phyllis, don’t you think? Oh, and this dandelion, it has to be an Irma. Irma, what do you think? Is Irma a good name?”
“You’re talking to a weed, Young,” my neighbor would say.
You can see where this might end up. Don’t scare or otherwise shock the neighbors.
Then I found one that wouldn’t alarm my wife or the neighbors: find a painting, choose a feeling, and let your words paint the feeling.
So I did. I turned to the artist Gerhard Richter.
The cold slides into my bones,
the cold that drives old Ebenezer
to his stove fire, what there is
of it, until he falls asleep, and
dreams of chains, until only
ashes remain, and charred wood.
Maybe I should go back to Irma and Betty in the backyard. Phyllis is still sulking in her corner.
To see the discussion and links to other posts, please visit Tweetspeak Poetry. Tell them Phyllis sent you.
Painting: December by Gerhard Richter (1989), St. Louis Art Museum.