Friday, June 26, 2020

CPITS workshops, Jane Hirshfield, Dan Levinson, Jessica Wilson





“It is important that awake people be awake.” Stafford
Poem Is Small Kindnesses by Danusha Lameris
Writing Prompt:  On left side in a vertical column:  5 -10 concrete nouns.  Make them different from each other.

On the right side of the page, do the same vertical columns - 5-10 abstract nouns.  Any school subject, any emotion, ideas…Things you can’t touch.
In between each two words in both set of columns, write the word “OF”  Should give you a set  “coffee cup of science”  or switch order “science of coffee cups”
Pick one of these sets or constellations of words that excites you and begin a piece of writing.
On left side in a vertical column:  5 -10 concrete nouns.  Make them different from each other.
On the right side of the page, do the same vertical columns - 5-10 abstract nouns.  Any school subject, any emotion, ideas…Things you can’t touch.
In between each two words in both set of columns, write the word “OF”  Should give you a set  “coffee cup of science”  or switch order “science of coffee cups”
Pick one of these sets or constellations of words that excites you and begin a piece of writing.
You have roughly 10 minutes.

Freewrite 1

In the mirror, grief waited
patiently for light to surrender,
and for the darkness to follow.
Its silvered tongue spoke of the past
when women plumbed its depths,
scrying the future from the dross.
I was once one of those women,
living in the USSR, one winter, waiting
for a glimpse of the future.
And now here we are.
The old beveled mirror, someone’s discard,
silver scratched off the back,
faithfully reflects the light, sharpens its teeth,
while I measure shadows crawling across the room
where containment is equal to life.
The banshee wailing at the door, is hunting again.
So many fallen, I do not know where to begin,
or how to comprehend such grief.
My pen is mute, filled with darkness,
my hand speaks of loss, trying on other dreams
in the mirror when I am not looking.
The clock is writing down the calendar of days.
We grow used to the genteel confinement.
It becomes our familiar. We become inured to it.
Yet the world rages on, a lethal stew of protesters,
AntiFa and AltRigh boiling in the streets
as if naming it could quell the civil unrest.
Tearing down statues of oppression
and tearing down what was once good—
there is no filter. It is all fodder for the rage that burns.
And we sit in our towers watching the wind
bending the tall grass to its will
as the ashes of the dead ride on the breeze.


Next Prompt:  Write down some things that people might actually say.
Next, write down 1-3 factual statements. Simple sentences that are true. For example: “The earth is round.”
Last thing to write down:   one question.

Cheating is allowed.  Change any elements. Write a poem which is someway relevant to your reality (and unreality.) Write a poem that has actual spoken words or dialogue in some way in it. Be aware of the typographical possibilities as well as the possibilities of how many ways there are to work dialogue into a poem: in passing, as the main way the poem moves, or something in between, or a momentary breaking of the fourth wall. Optional: include a fact, a question, or both.

Model poems:
The Act by William Carlos Willams
In the Desert by Stephen Crane
A Note on ‘Iowa City:  Early April’ by Robert Hass
[from Citizen] by Claudia Rankine
Table by Edip Canceler, translated by Richard Tillinghast from the Turkish

10 minutes… Write a poem which is someway relevant to this moment in your reality (and unreality.)  Write a poem that has actual spoken words or dialogue in some way in it. Be aware of the typographical possibilities as well as the possibilities of how many ways there are to work dialogue into a poem: in passing, as the main way the poem moves, or something in between, or a momentary breaking of the fourth wall. Optional: include a fact, a question, or both.

Freewrite 2

Where to even begin? The mind wants answers,
and some are satisfied with any answers
that will do, no matter how impossible.
People are grasping at straws
as if they were liferafts in the deep end of the COVID pool.
Lemmings flock to the beaches, as if to find the answer,
the first terrestrial “I am” ever uttered.
I want to tell the gobies and the mudskippers
there’s been a mistake, but I’ve said it all before
in another poem, long ago, when I was someone else.
As we look down the hind site of that long barreled gun of time,
we can’t even imagine anything else but this moment,
frozen, in the perpetual now.
Each act takes us farther from ourselves,
and what we once held to be true,
makes us re-define our lives with this new timeframe,
so that we can barely remember anything other than now.
What is happening to time? As we speed headlong
towards our own extinction.




FROM JANE'S READING
Words

Words are loyal.
Whatever they name they take the side of.
As the word courage will afterward grip just as well 
the frightened girl soldier who stands on one side of barbed wire, 
the frightened boy soldier who stands on the other.
Death’s clay, they look at each other with wide-open eyes.
And words—that love peace, love gossip—refuse to condemn them.

Jane Hirshfield - 1953-
—2016

Day Beginning with Seeing the International Space Station and a Full Moon Over the Gulf of Mexico and All Its Invisible Fishes

None of this had to happen.
Not Florida. Not the ibis’s beak. Not water.
Not the horseshoe crab’s empty body and not the living starfish.
Evolution might have turned left at the corner and gone down another street entirely.
The asteroid might have missed.
The seams of limestone need not have been susceptible to sand and mangroves.
The radio might have found a different music.
The hips of one man and the hips of another might have stood beside
each other on a bus in Aleppo and recognized themselves as long-lost brothers.
The key could have broken off in the lock and the nail-can refused its lid.
I might have been the fish the brown pelican swallowed.
You might have been the way the moon kept not setting long after we thought it would,
long after the sun was catching inside the low wave curls coming in
at a certain angle. The light might not have been eaten again by its moving.
If the unbearable were not weightless we might yet buckle under the grief
of what hasn’t changed yet. Across the world a man pulls a woman from the water
from which the leapt-from overfilled boat has entirely vanished.
From the water pulls one child, another. Both are living and both will continue to live.
This did not have to happen. No part of this had to happen.

Jane Hirshfield - 1953-
—2016


Jessica Cardenas Wilson Ekphrasitc poetry

GHOST TRACTORS
to DeCastro's Dancers

A flock of ghost tractors
plowing the sky
dancing with the dancer
whose legs are a bouquet
An eye in the sky, amber dreams
the dancer on the jaguar road
holds up the daisies
and the sky turns green
a harvest dream
for the mountains holding back 
the desert.

AFTER KAHLO

She is the madonna 
holding the wounded lover, 
a man infantlizing himself 
back into the womb,
but Mother Earth holds 
them both in her arms,
just as she holds the cactus races, 
the roots and raices,
her breast is a fissure 
in the earth, lactating into rivers
while a coyote sleeps
beneath a sword of blue agaves.
But behind Mother Earth 
is another pale woman 
holding onto them all.
She is made of clouds, 
day and night, 
sun and moon.