The energy around the table was positive and friendly; participants were ready to get right to work (which is really play). It is a joy to see people writing freely, and to have so many of them willing to share what they had written, reading it aloud to the group. We write to prompts, so we are sharing our first-draft work. It takes courage to share your work in a new group, especially writing which you haven't had time to polish, and I see plenty of courage - and talent - in this group.
What makes WORD SOUP especially fun is the fact that I do not allow ANY criticism of this first-draft work; we share only what we remember about the writing which has been read aloud, and what we enjoyed in it. These practices make for a safe, encouraging environment, which allows imagination to flow freely.
Last evening, I read aloud a poem which was given to me by the out-going leader of Field's End, Barbara Clarke (author of "Getting to Home"). Here it is:
"Where I’m From…" by George Ella LyonI am from clothespins,from Clorox and carbon-tetrachloride.I am from the dirt under the back porch.(Black, glistening,it tasted like beets.)I am from the forsythia bushthe Dutch elmwhose long-gone limbs I rememberas if they were my own.I’m from fudge and eyeglasses,From Imogene and Alafair.I’m from the know-it-allsAnd the pass-it-ons,From Perk up! and Pipe down!I’m from He restoreth my soulwith a cottonball lamband ten verses I can say myself.I’m from Artemus and Billie’s Branch,fried corn and strong coffee,from the finger my grandfather lostto the auger,the eye my father shut to keep his sight.Under my bed was a dress boxspilling old pictures,a sift of lost facesto drift beneath my dreams.I am from those moments—snapped before I budded—leaf-fall from the family tree.
Isn't that a beautiful way to express one's roots?
I offered the poem as a writing prompt for the group. Since I write to the same prompts while the students write, below is my own rough version of "Where I'm From..." I've been tinkering with it, because I am not accustomed to writing poetry; it would be a good idea to consult my poet friends to hear their thoughts.
Where I'm From... by Karen Boren Gerstenberger
I'm from saltwater and sand
Barnacles and Indian beads
I'm from starry nights and wave-song
Salty air and sea-breeze,
Bonfires and make-believe.
I'm from grass stains and cedar cones
Pine pitch and blackberries
Old Man Ghost and Sardines
Beach seines and rope swings.
I'm from the Gold Rush and Great Depression,
Pioneer Square and Capital Hill,
Enatai and Medina,
California and Washington
Kent Valley farm and Olympic Hotel.
I'm from Bavaria and Alsace-Lorraine,
Bronze plaques and fortunes scattered,
Ivy League and West Coast
Ancient faith and new covenant.
But really, I'm from
Saltwater, lapping the shores of sacred Indian ground.
I'm grateful to my colleagues at Field's End, the program staff at Kitsap Regional Library, WORD SOUP groups, and my family for making this work possible. It is a joy!