In my last post I had mentioned the first of my online classes through the University of Iowa and the Canvas project- did I mention this course was free? There is good in the world. I had really enjoyed some of the suggestions that Robert Hass had offered for coming up with ideas for poems and which are all apart of the beginning of the course of How Writers Write. I’ve been journaling/notebooking, scraping, and sketching since I was a teenager, but I had never really thought of it as a part of my writing process. Honestly, I’d never really been sure what I was doing and I definitely didn’t know what to do with all of the words, ideas, and thoughts. My notes and writing have always lacked discipline and I’ve gone months with out writing a word, so having this class is a nice way to start jotting down some randomness.
In my last post I also wrote out Robert Hass‘s breakdown of sketching. My understanding of it is that you don’t really plan out your thoughts or words but just let things fall as they may. It could be nonsense, it could be bad, or you could get something really inspiring, but the outcome at this point doesn’t matter. What matters is that you are generating some ideas, some words onto the paper.
- Start with a basic line
- write a second line: try the call and response- let the second line surprise you.
- Write out three lines which is the rhythm of the body
- Write out four lines- the rhythm of the mind.
His first video instruction was to look around your room, and your space and write a single line. I had stopped the video and wrote down 5 lines based on observations around me.
- This empty bottle waits for me to fill it.
- On my night stand I see a Chinese warrior with a bronze Japanese rabbit at his feet, and the bone of an ancient civilization safely kept behind a framed piece of glass.
- My laundry hangs like wilted flowers over an overturned bed frame and opened lockers.
- Oh these books these awful books.
- How I wish my lamp were a crystal ball.
Next was to write the second line. I could do either a call and response or whatever came to my mind. In the next following sentences I didn’t really take much time to think about what I was writing but just to allow myself to write- something whatever. The most important point that I’m taking away from it is not to critic what I’m writing but to just write it.
- This empty bottle waits for me to fill it
but who will drink from it when I’m gone?
- Dear Chinese warrior with the bronze Japanese rabbit at your feet- do you know what is behind you?
Ancient words carved into bone as fragile as glass and as clear as stone.
- Oh these books these awful books
lies of little children.
- I wish my lamp were a crystal ball.
And if it were, what would you ask for?
For the three lines he suggested another approach- one was to quickly write out a paragraph that came to your mind and then to pull the three lines from the paragraph.
- I awoke with a panic this morning. The same if not worse than before. There was drool, actual drool on my pillow, my heart was racing, and my mind was sunk into some kind of a hole. Where was I? What kind of anxiety was attacking my dreams, and what were my dreams telling me? There is no manual for this kind of suffering.
- I awoke with panic
The same and worse then before
dreams lost in the whole of my mind
Then for finding the four line poem he went back to suggesting that we take our ideas from the room that we are in. To use your observations and to just let the lines fall into place one after the other.
- I’m sitting on the dirty floor
watching and listing to you read poetry
We’ve never met before
but I’m here, listening to your stories.
Anyway, something like that. Are they poems? No. Can they be? Sure it’s possible. Can I scrap them and toss them away? If I want- that’s my choice. It’s just the beginning. Only the beginning.