A fruitful poetry workshop

February has been a busy month – complete with a new regime of tennis lessons and practice matches, a poetry workshop, and a focused effort to walk more miles a day to get ready for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s AFSP Out of the Darkness 16-18 mile walk in May.

AFSP poster

The poetry workshop ended last week, and right now I like being off the hook to come up with another new poem. However, I very much liked the small group – there were six of us including the instructor – and the friendly but pointed critiques we gave each other on our work.

To start the weekly three-hour workshop off, the instructor would give us a warm-up prompt that required us to write something – poetry or prose – in real-time and then share it with the group.

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One week she asked us to write down an unusual gift we’ve given or received. I wrote down: TisBest gift certificates I give to my nieces and nephews that enable them to make a donation to a charity of their choice.

She also asked us to write down two or three things we think are beautiful that other people don’t get. I wrote: my almost all black wardrobe and my salt and pepper long hair.

Then she asked us to write a letter to the poet Naomi Shihab Nye about an unusual poem we’ve found.

Here’s mine:

Dear Naomi,

Thanks to you I dug deep into my memory and found just the right poem. How can I ever forget the raccoons that invaded my garden every time I put a water-lily plant into the fountain bowl?
I had so longed for water lilies, but the raccoons wanted them more. They washed their hands in the bowl and as they scrubbed tore the lily leaves out, throwing them in all directions. What a mess they left us in the morning.
We hired a trapper to get rid them. He put out a large wire trap, used peanut butter as bait and before we knew it the guilty raccoon took it. The next day we’d find the poor critter locked in the trap. Batting his long eyelashes, his sad dark eyes pleaded with us to let him go.
But we didn’t. We’d call the trapper who took the culprit to the Santa Monica mountains – or so he said.
Thinking all was well, we planted more lilies, and guess what? Another raccoon destroyed them too.
Certainly we learned a big lesson. Get over our fixation of having water lilies in our garden, or learn to live with raccoons.
Think there’s a poem here somewhere, Naomi? Let me know and I’ll get going on it.

***

I managed to write nine poems during this six-week workshop. In addition to a new poem, each week I brought in a previous week’s poem edited based on the comments received. I don’t plan to share any others here since want to submit them to contests or anthologies after some additional editing. But I will share four minutes worth at a class reading (with an open mike for guest poets) on Saturday March 19.

I’ll bring you up to date on my tennis playing in the next few weeks.

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