Pre web leisure, Tanka and juxtaposition.
Monday afternoon…leisurely sipping cups of tea and enjoying a few chapters of a steampunky adventure.
I started downloading my next audio book, discovering sometime later, that my internet connection is flashing red instead of green.
So far the usual remedies haven’t worked, so I am off line for the evening and find myself slightly frustrated and wondering (though I kind of know really because I was there), what did we do before we became ensnared in the world wide web? Do you remember life pre-internet? Tell me about it. In the meantime, I’ll be waiting till tomorrow to send our weekly prompts out there!
In the book Write Every day by Harriet Griffey,
a Tanka is described as a short poem of five lines and a rhythm of (usually) 5, 7, 5, 7, 7 beats.
In the book, Rip the past Adventures in Creative Writing by Karen Benke,
One way to write a Tanka is:
1. name an object from nature
2. choose three words that describe your object
3. What does your object do? Or how does your object move?
4. Where is your object in time and space? Be as specific as you can
5. What do you have that your object doesn’t have?
No___________, no______________, no___________________
Here is our classroom group effort
Light yellow bright
Twinkling eyes in the sky
Millions of night guardians
No sadness no anger no worries
Formulas are an amusing way of getting started with something. A little like a recipe, follow the steps, then wait and see the results! I really loved this one from Rip the past Adventures in Creative Writing by Karen Benke
Take a piece of paper and fold it in half lengthwise.
With the crease on your right:
Write down ten words you like.
Add a descriptive word in front of each word, if you like.
Flip the paper over (don’t unfold it) so the crease is on the left.
Write down the month or season you were born.
Write down a day of the week.
Write down ‘the past’, ‘the present’ or ‘the future’.
Write down a favourite colour.
Write down ‘my heart’.
Write down ‘my imagination’.
Write down a feeling state (joy, sadness, amazement)
Write down a type of weather (mid-week rain, smooth sunshine)
Write down a small sound (tiny whispers, puppy snores, grunts…)
Write down a favourite food.
Unfold the paper and write ‘Poetry is’ at the top (or ‘My imagination is’, ‘Inside my heart is’, ‘My life is’, ‘Creativity is’…), then combine your list from either side of the page with the word ‘of’ sitting between each column. Mix and match from each side of the page until you find an example of juxtaposition-putting two unlike things together (side by side) to wake up your ears and make your mouth smile.
the present moment
and my wine red heart.
Poetry is restless leaves,
my imagination painting
a tempest of awe and wonder.
Poetry is hopeful murmuring,
intuition and universal symbols.
Poetry is moist petrichor
and weightless olives.
Poetry is being.
Courage, hope and the traces left behind...
I find that when I am focused on something, I see or hear it everywhere! This works with writing too. It is on my mind and I see correlation all around me, whether it is a few words I overhear, lyrics in a song or even random thought patterns while mixing a cake! Somewhere in this process, courage popped into my head. Is it an idea, a concept, a virtue or a strength and where does it come from? Can you describe or define courage?
Hope is the Thing with Feathers by Emily Dickinson
During this topsy-turvy year where little has gone as we imagined, what thing is hope for you?
Last week we described the art of trying, a title inspired by a short reflection by Paulo Coelho from his book Like the Flowing River. This week, we change the angle of focus and reflect on the traces we leave behind us or that are left upon us, as we attempt to master the art of trying. Are they visible scars or invisible tracks? What form do they take? Do they define you? Do you make them with intention and wear them with pride or are they cause and effect of life?
How to try, artful thinking and play dates.
The Art of Trying. Write a description for this title.
There is art in much of what we do, from making tea, to hanging out the clothes and brushing your hair. Look at your daily art-scape. What are your rituals, your particularities?
Have you hung out with your inner child lately?
In her book The Source, Judith McAdam explains that in order to find alignment with source energy, we must first heal and nurture the child within us. With time and age, we often forget, repress or neglect the child we were, even though that child is always present and an important part of our true essence.
Find a childhood photo of yourself and free write your play date. How in touch with her are you? How will you reconnect? How is she feeling? Does she need fixing?
Branches, nonsense and contemplative curiosita.
Stretch out your branches, extend your roots and free write to this theme:
If I was a tree…
And just because you can, check out your Celtic tree sign
The more I read the more inspiration I find.
The more I make, the more I do, the more I share…it is endless!
Sharing is one of the main reasons I (re)created Amotisse. It gives me a special kind of joy and the inspiration I receive from your participation is magical!
Eva (aka Freda) recently shared some of her spoken poems with me, recited in their original German to music, emphasizing sound and rhythm, wonderful!
Once again, we will follow her lead and write some nonsense poems. Here is her one below. Seems like good timing for being nonsensical!
Man könnte weisse Mäuse züchten und einen Papierbrief schreiben, Nelkenzigaretten rauchen und den Brief per Taube schicken, Raupen aus den Nelken fischen und vernichten
oder einfach in der Wanne liegenbleiben.
Man könnte Raupen sammeln und in Briefen schicken, Tauben züchten und den Mäusen schreiben, Zigaretten in die Nelken legen
und die Blattlaus in den Tiefschlaf giften.
Man könnte Tauben räuchern und mit Nelken, spicken Raupen mit den Läusen schlafen schicken,
rote Knöpfe an die Maus verfüttern
Briefe züchten und im Vollbad rauchen.
Doch was tut man?
Unversinnzapft ein Gedicht.
You could breed white mice and write a paper letter, smoke clove cigarettes and send the letter by dove, fish caterpillars from the carnations and destroy them
or just stay in the tub.
You could collect caterpillars and send them in letters, breed pigeons and write letters to the mice, put cigarettes in the carnations
and put the aphids into dead sleep.
You could smoke pigeons larded with cloves, send the caterpillars to bed with the aphids
feed red buttons to the mouse
Cultivate letters and smoke in the tub.
But what do you do?
Spin around a poem that doesn't make sense.
(Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version))
Our final Curiosita exercise, follow as below.
In an age of sound bites, contemplation is becoming a lost art. Attention spans grow shorter and the soul suffers. To contemplate, as defined by Webster, is “to look at with continued attention, to meditate on.” It comes from the root contemplan, which means “to mark out a temple” (con, “with”;
templum, “temple”) or “to gaze attentively.”
Choose any question from the previous exercises—for example: What people, places, and activities allow me to feel most fully myself?—and hold it in your mind for a sustained period, at least ten minutes at a time. A good way to do this is to take a large sheet of paper and write the question out in big, bold letters. Then:
Find a quiet, private place and hang it on the wall in front of you.
Relax, breathe deeply, allowing extended exhalations.
Just sit with your question.
When your mind starts to wander, bring it back by reading the question again, out loud. It is particularly valuable to do this contemplation exercise before going to sleep, and again upon waking. You will find that if you practice it sincerely, your mind will “incubate” insights overnight.
As the laptop does it’s internal thing,
I’m surrounded by the hum of the fireplace, (old, noisy, yet efficient),
radio tunes and the ever succulent thrum of wind and rain.
Sounds soaking down,
through and within,
bringing green transformations,
future abundance and
ease to the farmer’s mind.
Three faithful furry companions curl up beside me.
My eye is caught by reflections of birds flitting,
enjoying the winter shower outside.
My mind wanders,
nothing unusual there.
I’m prone to distraction and
grey, wet skies make me pensive.
Natural cleansing and replenishing
as nature washes and refreshes her pores,
she extends her transformative energy out to us.
In the whys
In the wonderings
In the chatterings
What is to understand?
What are the chances that
at any given moment
those sparks of light
will slowly or quickly
fade to nothing and extinguish?
Hard + fast + defiance ≠ invincible
Equality is inevitable
We are our own makers
We choose our own adventures
There is no protection
Curiosity will make you
Or break you
You choose your own adventure
Promises, imaginings and curiosita.
The lovely and talented Freda Becker has inspired the free writing theme this week with, “A promise and an incentive”.
What do you promise, what is your incentive?
Imagine by Zohab Zee Kahn
Words and poetry are made for sharing, for speaking out loud, to be expressed. Are you familiar with the world of spoken word and slam poetry? I was fortunate enough to see and hear this guy in action, to be inspired by the power of words out loud.
Follow the link, have a listen, then IMAGINE your own world out loud using the same or similar format. Maybe John Lennon's Imagine is more your style, or do you know another?
Take a moment, close your eyes, cast your mind out and share your imaginings with us.
The next part of Leo’s Curiosita exercise from the book
How to Think Like Leonardo Da Vinci by Michael Gelb, is a:
Working with a theme is a powerful tool for focusing your Curiosità. Choose a theme for the day and record observations in your notebook. You can jot down your thoughts throughout the day, or just make mental notes to be recorded in your notebook at a quiet time before sleep. Aim to make accurate, simple observations. Speculation, opinion, and theory are
fine, but actual observation offers the richest resource.
Your list of a hundred questions, or the power questions, will provide plenty of themes for this exercise. Additionally, you can choose any of the following or make up your own. Some favorite themes include: Emotions, Seeing, Listening, Touch, Aesthetics, and Animals. Do this exercise on your own or choose a theme with a friend and compare notes at the end of
streams of consciousness and
top ten questions.
Find a book
write down the first word you see
repeat this 8 times
write a poem using these nine words
Julia Cameron refers to free writing as her morning pages and recommends writing 3 pages every morning, for Leonardo it was stream of consciousness, for Zohab Zee Kahn, it's a brain dump. Whatever you call it and however you do it, free writing is a release. Writing is a release! Creating and making is a release! Let's map it out.
I love using mind maps to sort out my thoughts and ideas. It's like brainstorming on paper, you can even make it pretty and colourful. With the energy of the full moon above us, write the word RELEASE in the middle of your page and circle it. What gives you release? Is there something or someone you need to release? Branching out, write all the associations that come to mind from this word...release yourself!
Last week I introduced Leo’s Curiosita from the book How to Think Like Leonardo Da Vinci by Michael Gelb. Did you manage to write your 100 questions? I am still looking for which notebook I wrote mine in!
Here are the next steps;
Review your list of a hundred questions. Choose the ten that seem most significant. Then rank them in importance from one to ten. (Of course, you can add new questions or change the order at any time.) Do not attempt to answer them right now; you’ve done enough just putting them in writing in a place where you can easily find them.
Ten Power Questions
The following questions are drawn from different people’s “top ten.” These questions are powerful catalysts to personal growth and fulfilment.
Copy them in your notebook for contemplation:
When am I most naturally myself?
What people, places, and activities allow me to feel most fully myself?
What is one thing I could stop doing, or start doing, or do differently, starting today that would most improve the quality of my life?
What is my greatest talent?
How can I be paid for doing what I love?
Who are my most inspiring role models?
How can I best be of service to others?
What is my heart’s deepest desire?
How am I perceived by: my closest friend, my worst enemy, my boss, my children, my co- workers, etc.?
What are the blessings of my life?
What legacy would I like to leave?
How Does a Bird Fly?
Choose one of the following topics inspired by Da Vinci’s passionate questioning: a bird in flight, flowing water, the human body, a landscape, reflected light, a knot or braid. In your journal, ask at least ten questions about it. Again, there’s no need to write answers; in Curiosità, we focus on the questions. For example:
How does a bird fly?
Why does it have two wings?
Why does it have feathers?
How does it “take off”?
How does it slowdown?
How does it accelerate?
How high can it fly?
When does it sleep?
How good is its eyesight?
What does it eat?
Then choose a topic from your personal or professional life and do the same exercise — ask ten questions about your career, your relationship, your health. Record the questions in your journal—no answers yet, just questions.
Answer this list of kooky questions.
Going through my many papers, I rediscovered this book, Transforming grief and loss through writing by Susan Zimmerman. In Chapter 11 The Power of Poetry, she explains an exercise by poet Georgia Heard which goes like this:
Do this quickly, capturing the first thoughts you have.
Read what you have written. Take your time, close your eyes and visualise the images you have collected. Using these ideas and inspiration, craft a little, or long, poem of your own. Remember, there is no right or wrong, only a string of words that create meaning for you.
The view from here
Life humming, s t r e t c h e d o u t
like a distant drone,
Sounds like it feels,
boxes you in,
beyond your control.
Reflections s t r e t c h o u t
in the dark like
wisps of whispers
to visit another day...
Beyond your control,
like the missing piece
of an almost finished puzzle.
By Tina Pech 2020
For me, it seems there is not much difference between wondering and wandering. It has always helped me find inspiration. Creative dabbling is good for the soul, I couldn't imagine life without it and often surprise myself by what I come up with.