Over at Tweetspeak Poetry, we’ve been reading poemcrazy: freeing your life with words by Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge. The readings come with exercises. So far, I’ve made two stabs at communing with nature, one to name the plants and trees in our back yard and the other to have a conversation with a tree, but they didn’t work out so well. What worked better was to select a place of beauty or mystery and write about it.
This week, my choices for a practical exercise included listing where you need freedom in your life; seeking out children and jotting down what they say; interviewing a fellow discussion participant with questions like who were you in my dream (which sounds rather vaguely like a writing prompt for a poetry jam on Twitter); writing about the center of your childhood home; weeping in the grocery (the only thing that makes me weep in the grocery is the prices); assembling a collage of things around you; looking at what the “image angel” has placed in front of you; and making up a string of words because you like the sound of them (like “woozel” in the Winnie-the-Pooh stories; except A.A. Milne already made that up).
I decided to combine a couple (no, I did not go weep in the grocery). I looked at all of the words and images surrounding me in my office at work, and made a list.
Here are some of them: Emergency Procedures for the office; photo of a raindrop; a framed print of Stump Speaking by George Caleb Bingham; replicas of three “Lewis” chessmen found on an island off Scotland; the Gettysburg Address (framed); a replica of the Eiffel Tower made from chicken wire; a world atlas; An American Heritage Dictionary; a pen-and-pencil holder in the form of an LSU football helmet; red Arizona quartz stones two stone sculptures by Iowa artist Isabel Bloom; a Celtic cross; and pictures of grandchildren.
And books – some representative titles: 101 Things I Learned in Film School; Union of Words; Creating the Corporate Soul; Beyond Bullet Points; Writing Space; Electric Rhetoric; Lend Me Your Ears; First Break All the Rules; and Getting to the Heart of Employee Engagement.
I saw the common themes almost immediately. I have surrounded myself in my office with words and memory, including books about words and even images about words.
And while it looked simple at first glance, I wondered how I was going to distill a poem form all that – a poem that made sense. Or didn’t make sense in a sensical kind of way. I think I know what I mean.
Words and Images: Old and New
Words old and new swirl
with images old and new
surrounding my mind
old and new, words and
images of a hundred speeches
old and new, led in procession
by Lincoln at Gettysburg,
old yet still new, red rocks
old in age, new in possession,
my Lewis chessmen, old
in memory, new in replica,
dictionary and atlas new
at the end of old evolution,
a cross old and new each day,
words, always words,
surrounded with words,
always old, always new.
To see what others in the discussion are writing about, please visit Tweetspeak Poetry.
Photograph: My three replicas of Lewis chessmen, purchased from the British Museum, September 2012.