Friday, June 7, 2013

Writing Exercise: "Poems and the Body"

Dear Readers,

As one of our regular offerings, we will post exercises we have tried or want to try.  I was skimming through PoemCrazy by Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge, a book I often walk past and wish I were opening, when I came to Chapter 24, "Poems and the Body."  I am working on a series of body poems, so it applies to my current project.  But I also thought I would share it here as a means of challenging myself and our readers to try one of these exercises.

"To reach one of the places poems come from," writes Woolridge, "I need to swim underwater, stay up all night or look at things upside down or sideways to tap both my alert, conscious self and my unconscious.  I need to delve into my sleep; do and see things from an altered perspective.  This not only helps me write poems, it can open up my life" (88).  Summer seems to be a natural time for waking up the body.  We wear less clothing, smell more smells, walk barefoot, swim, hike.  We remember our bodies.

In order to "tap" both spheres-- the conscious and the unconscious-- Woolridge offers a long list of possible prompts.  Here is a small sampling:

Stand on your head for as long as possible.  Notice details upside down.  Look in a mirror. Write.

Dance. Write...

Hang out with a dog, cat, horse or bird.  Feel the animal's fur or feathers and let yourself move into creature consciousness.  A grasshopper will do.  Write from his point of view.

Listen to your breath.  Be aware that it's automatic and that breathing, being alive, is effortless.  Write a poem about your breathing.

Write a poem of hunger or food....

Do anything new.  It will open you up to feel, see, write and be something new.  (90)

So.  I challenge you to try one of these or make up your own body-poem exercise.  As Molly Peacock says, a poet's job is to bring the reader back into her body.  Let's do it.  Feel free to post the results here.  Or write about the process.  Was it easy?  Was it difficult?  Which parts?  Why?

Looking forward to hearing from you,

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