I just returned from my first real experience actually teaching what I would love to spend the rest of my life teaching. I worked with students on creative nonfiction writing at a really great first-of-its-kind(-in-Ukraine-at-least) seminar put on by my friends, iea, Sally, Melissa and Nate in Mykolaiv called “Writing Beyond Reality.” (Go check us out here, or in the Link bar to the right…there’s not much to see right now, but stay tuned to see what mind-blowing things make appearances there). It was invigorating as a teacher and utterly reinvigorating as a writer, and while I spent much more time on the former than the later, I still managed to pound out a couple of “justwrite” pieces, the favored daily form of my friend, the wonderful poet Melissa (do yourself a favor and see more of her stuff here, then go do some justwriting of your own!) Basically a justwrite is a 10-minute focused freewrite (put the pen to the page and don’t stop moving, keep writing, even if what you are thinking is ridiculous or horrifying or inane) that starts with a random provocative two-word phrase. I thought I’d share what I came up with…
8 October – “sky music”
Sky music is neurotic not erotic unless blue jays do that sort of thing for you, unless bright days and redwoods are the stuff of your nighttime dreams and you scream out with the voice of the sparrow sparing no one the ear drumming echo of your bird babble and babble they do in crusty apartments with yellow smoky paper on the walls no not wallpaper I say, babble they do and bounce around brains through out, though out of earshot, mind thought, they babble and bounce until bouncing out they spill in moments unguarded, protected by neither wisdom nor chastity, giver over to that thieving rogue, dream. These the times when a young man sees what he wants from life written on the collarbone of every woman he passes, knows the straightlines coming out of the body, jutting smooth, in ways no thought ever could, and he sees there the egg shaped end just underneath as if he could suck it out and roll it around on his tongue. And I thought you said this wouldn’t go there. No, I said it wasn’t erotic…not that this even really is music, and I’ve only said sky one time, though birds make squawking appearances here and there. And besides it’s not sex there not even violence but simple hunger, desire to consume the beautiful and make it yours in body and energy as with all things taken in.
9 October – “apple cloud”
apple cloud, he said to me, that’s what I call an apple tree, you see he said then suddenly, transformed himself into a bee. That’s absurd, I said to myself, it’s singsong and inane, though secretly I was impressed with my own easy sense of rhyme, the way the words were tucked in next to each other like orphan siblings in a new foster home. Really, I said, that’s the most readily available metaphor you could think of? Do you think that’s beautiful or something? Don’t you get it? I said back. It makes a lot of sense, this dropping of words out of my mind onto a page, leaving them behind here, possibly forever, and besides, there’s no such thing as a child who is not in some way beautiful. Man, I said, I’ve really got to stop talking to myself. People will think we’re crazy. Let’s start over…
apple cloud rings so loud but it’s a hollow sound. there’s nothing there in my brain to resonate with those words and I like the idea, can start to mindpaint the imagery but shit I mean it’s a cloud and those are notoriously elusive and fickle, it makes me think of a flurry of thrown apples, or maybe that’s what some creative person could call an apple tree…
(Is he going to even acknowledge the fact that he hasn’t written in over four months, that a whole summer–an incredibly busy one at that, one that started with an impromptu trip to Paris to see my dad, wound through two summer camps and a much-needed, beach-and-mountain trip to Romania with my lovely, and ended where it started with an English camp in late August–a whole summer has gone by with nary a peep, naught but slow wind and stale air wafting across this vast barren virtual plane…doesn’t he know that all of his reader has been worried about him? How can he just act like nothing has happened, start in as if this long death-rattle of a pause had never happened to our conversation, not even bring us some flowers or a pretty poem in the way of an apology?)
I can’t promise that I’ll ever really “catch up” with all that has happened to me over the past four months–if you want to know, you’ll have to read the book someday maybe. And, while I know that as a writer, I should have written, that I should write every day, I can’t apologize for the living that I’ve been able to do. The high point of the summer, however, deserves to be acknowledged: in July, my beautiful Bean saw a long-time dream burst into life when the first vanload of Camp OHALOW kids arrived at the campground. It was an amazing week, humbling and full of growth and hugs and smiles and song and tears and everything you could ever want from a camp, let alone one in its first year ever. I was responsible for creating a slide show for the end of the week…and (get excited, but not too much yet!!!) I’ll include it here for your viewing pleasure as soon as I figure out how to do it or if it’s even possible (I need a Dave’s help!)
Don’t let nobody try and steal your soul…You’re the original!