Creative Strength Training: Week 2 poetry

Tiny Little Windows poemJane Dunnewold has a book on Creative Strength Training and there is a Facebook group doing exercises this summer as a “summer camp” based on their training classes. A friend pointed me in that direction and I am trying it for now to see how it fits with my other practices – it may stay, or it may fall by the side if it proves too distracting from my current work.

The prompt for Week 2 was to write a poem based on words that you respond to from a dictionary page or newspaper, and optionally do a visual representation of the poem. Alas, we don’t get newspapers anymore and I cringe at the thought of marking up a dictionary, so I flipped through a handful of books that “decorate” my dining room table and wrote down words from random pages there. (Yes, our table seems to be perennially covered with an assortment of reading materials. We love to read, and our tastes are esoteric at best. 🙂 )

I wrote poetry back in my angsty early teens as I struggled with not fitting the mold of my peers and with following two exceptional older siblings through school. I had an older cousin who graciously read and responded to my poems, assuring me that it was okay to be who I was. I wish I still had those letters, and dream that they are buried someplace in a box, but the feelings of acceptance always remain.

I borrowed one of my favorite photos from my husband, Andy, for the background of the poem rather than writing it all out by hand and trying to do an art journal kind of page around it. Somehow it seemed more important to get a response done and posted before the busy week steamrollered over my time and it fell by the wayside waiting for a “perfect” visual accompaniment. I can always redo it – it’s not precious and immutable.

I really wanted to capture the contrast between having or owning something that we didn’t build or contribute to ourselves compared to something that we accept responsibility for nurturing or that we have as a result of our own efforts. This is in great part reflecting the insights from the book of Wendell Berry’s “agrarian” essays about how we relate to our earth, alongside my ongoing musings about the value of creating things with our own hands.