Poetry in Three!

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Here’s me writing poetry to order at a Christmas Fair last year

I’ve been rediscovering my love for writing poetry for others on the spot in 3 minutes, to warm up for some Christmas ‘gigs’! Here’s one I wrote last week, for a guy who runs a local cafe. He asked for a poem on the topic of ‘Growing Teenage Girl’. Poetry has power people (but you know that…) – the conversation we had after that! And when I left, 2 hours or so later, he said I’d made his day…and it only took 3 minutes  Make someone’s day in your way today…it needn’t take long! So here it is, cheesy and raw, yes, but hey – it’s unedited and straight off the page…3 mins!

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I know you’re growing

But I try not to see it

It was easier

When I could hold all of you

Your joys, fears

Lift you out of danger

Kiss sweet dreams

Into your forehead

Before you slept

But you’re growing

And some of those branches

Are out of my reach

Nobody teaches

Us to be parents

We have to learn

And grow too

But much as I stretch

I can’t always reach

The tips of you

So I feed the soil

With my love and trust

That if I take care

Of your roots

Keep you safe

As much as I can

Keep the fridge full

Of more than ready made crap

If you’ll eat it

And keep out home

A place filled with space and light

You’ll grow

Thrive

Be happy

 

 

And here’s another, written at a reunion with college friends. Some of it, well, you probably had to be there…written in three minutes, in a busy bar, on the sign that had reserved our table…

reunion poem

30 second stories

Can’t capture the lives

That have come together,

People who’ve not changed

In 21 years

And tears haven’t started yet

But the laughter’s there

And we fall

As a Renault crashes the party

We’re just getting started

But the leaving will come

Eventually too

No house to return to

Together for a party

In Postman Pat land

The fizz is flowing

Because we’re grown up now

But it’s the little ones

That give many of us

Life’s meaning

While others are dreaming

Of a life beyond the 9-5

And so the photos will capture

Moments and smiles

Until the next time

We reminisce and remember

This is what life’s about

Laughs that don’t change

And the chance to be

18 again

 

Want to try? I have an egg timer I can lend you… 😉

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To do//To be – Writers’ Well

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Each week, I share on this blog one of the writing prompts used in my workshops, along with an example of what was written in response. This week I’d like to share a simple prompt that brought a powerful visceral response; there was a knowing laughter and a frantic scribbling, followed by a gentle sigh and an atmosphere of ‘knowing’. I personally found it fascinating to observe this, and though I share my own poem here, I intend to ask all those who were there last week to send me their poems to share on this blog if they wish. The wisdom and playfulness and profundity was quite stunning. And, well, it was really very simple…

  •  Take a blank sheet
  • Write at the top ‘To Do’
  • Add one item to start off that list
  • Pass to your right/receive on your left and add another item
  • Stop when you receive your original sheet back.

Now, turn over…

Write ‘To Be’ as a heading, and complete as before, though perhaps not quite as before, for now you find yourself allowing your shoulders to relax, smiling knowingly, and closing your eyes to dream into what it means…to be…

Now take all of that and mix it and call it and craft it and cajole it into a poem! See – simple! 😉

So, here’s what I wrote because that’s all I have to hand right now, but I’ll hopefully share some other examples soon. I loved each and every one of them…

What am I

if I throw

all that I do away?

What would be left

of the me

others see?

And is that why

I hide behind

all that I have

and do,

built up like a wall

that keeps my real self

from showing through,

because what’s true

doesn’t fit neatly

into a world of ticks and lists

it just exists,

naked and unadorned

until we clothe it in tasks

that matter far less

that simply being –

in spite of the mess…

 

So dear friends, over to you! How’s your balance of Be and Do 🙂 

 

If you enjoyed this prompt, then you can find more here:

https://wordsthatserve.wordpress.com/upcoming-writing-workshops-and-some-prompts-for-you-to-play-with/

and here:

https://wordsthatserve.wordpress.com/writing-prompts-the-elements/

Wild innocence

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prince and fox

Image of The Little Prince and the fox, from the book by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

I’d like to share some personal reflections inspired by a recent weekend bushcraft/camping adventure that still leaves me with far more to explore, and indeed wanting more…adventure, wilderness, realness – freedom. Enjoy:-)

 

Who has not felt the urge to throw a loaf of bread and a pound of tea in an old sack and jump over the back fence? – JOHN MUIR

 

It was a reconnection with innocence. I don’t mean childish or naïve or sweet – I simply mean authentically unadorned; the kind of wild, untamed innocence that knows it is timelessly and irrevocably at one with, and originated from, the very elements and other forms of life that surround it. The kind of innocence that looks neither forward nor back because the only truth is now, this moment, in which we are alive, the fire’s flickering, the potatoes taste slightly burnt and adults and children are dancing around the fire, chanting and laughing with sheer raw joy.

 

So what was the emotion that rose in me like a monster when we left, at once exultant and enraged?

 

One voice was saying, ‘This isn’t real. Come on, you couldn’t live like this day in day out, nobody would choose that. It would be hard work, miserable.”

 

But another voice was singing, “Oh, My God, that was me! That’s what it’s all about. That’s what I need to remember; remain humble and love, treat the whole earth as my home – not just one walled off doored off part of it. For a while I’ve been awake again, and the joy and wonder of that is so strong it overwhelms me.”

 

It was a taste of freedom; joyous, wild, risky, wonder-full freedom. Why now, unforced (perhaps) and consciously (really?) was I about to lock myself away in captivity again? There’s the rub; the pain and the curiosity and the question. Why would I do that to myself? Why would I support a system that does that to others? There is grief in seeing my bondage for what it is – chosen and self-inflicted.

 

I remember a quote from The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)

“I never wished you any sort of harm; but you wanted me to tame you…”

 

With taming comes responsibility, because once tamed it is hard for the tamed one to survive again in the wild. When looked at through the lens of my own experience and values this translates thus:

 

In order to be free I must once again take full responsibility for myself and my own experience. I must make nobody responsible for me because, in so doing, I shrink my own strength and I tell life/God that I do not trust – that I need comfort, safety, a backup plan.

 

Having explored and outlined the extremes, can I find the sacred aliveness of that meeting place of middle ground? Can I remain free and wild and authentic, and allow my heart to engage with others and this world deeply, rawly, fearlessly, staying always aware that I want to give and receive space and dares, not walls and promises, because promises are often broken and walls fall down, but love is something much wilder and more resilient, therefore in all my relationships with other people, other sentient beings, the natural world, let me not tame or be tamed.

 

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

– MARY OLIVER

 

On the same theme, I’ve also very much enjoyed reading the following recently:

A poem by Tom Hirons, Sometime A Wild God

https://coyopa.wordpress.com/2012/07/19/sometimes-a-wild-god-2/

A book by Cheryl Strayed, Wild – a Journey from Lost to Found

http://www.cherylstrayed.com/wild_108676.htm

 

 

Equations of opposites – Writers’ Well

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Each week, I share on this blog one of the writing prompts used in my workshops, along with an example of what was written in response. This week’s prompt was a bit of an experiment, and kinda fun 🙂 I could go into more detail on why and how I came up with it and what I had intended to explore, but I’ll save that for another time. So here goes – Equations of Opposites!

First, we went round writing pairs of opposites, any kind of opposites, for example:

 

Love  Hate

Black White

 

…and so on.

Then, on the next go round we added a + sign and an = sign, and completed this word equation with whatever new word/short phrase came to mind. It wasn’t about getting it ‘right’, there was no ‘right’ answer, just what that combination made you think of in that moment. Here are some examples…

 

 

Then, I invited people to write a poem in response, in just 10 minutes, though of course you could use this as a build up to any kind of writing. This is what I wrote:

 

Life is a smorgasbord

and doesn’t come with a menu

but rather throws us

ingredients we can choose

to catch or not

use or discard

as we choose,

depending on the size

of our container

and our willingness

to be curious,

the time we have to stir

and the heat we can brave

as we cook it all up

***

I’d love to hold your hand

feel your joy

or pain

and claim to know

and offer you

exactly what you need

to make it all

turn out right

but I can’t

and if I try

I lie

because it’s your pot

you’re stirring

and the fires beneath

are kindled by your dreams

your wishes

***

but when it tastes bad

or you get burnt

or the pot boils over

I can add a little seasoning

put on some ointment so it doesn’t blister

help you clean up

until you’re ready

for more ingredients

and a new recipe

 

 

Hmmm – can you tell I’ve been cooking a lot lately 😉

 

 

If you enjoyed this prompt, then you can find more here:

https://wordsthatserve.wordpress.com/upcoming-writing-workshops-and-some-prompts-for-you-to-play-with/

and here:

https://wordsthatserve.wordpress.com/writing-prompts-the-elements/

Synchronicity – Writers’ Well

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Each week, I share on this blog one of the writing prompts used in my workshops, along with an example of what was written in response. This week’s prompt was inspired by the concept of ‘Synchronicity’. This is something that has always fascinated me, ever since I read The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield) as a teenager. I enjoy watching how life plays out, and seeing how really, there are no coincidences; it all happens for a reason. At least, that’s my take on those moments that seem too well timed, too perfect, too unexpectedly ‘spot on appropriate’ to be explained by anything other than a universe rich with wisdom, humour and purpose.

So, back to the prompt! We simply wrote down an example of synchronicity from our lives, passed the sheet on and added to the one we received until we had a variety of examples which we read aloud for mutual inspiration. We then wrote a story, in 10 minutes, either directly inspired by a personal experience, or about an imaginary scenario that incorporated our understanding of synchronicity. This is what I wrote:

 

“There’s nothing more I can do for you sir. We’ve received the paperwork and the process is unfolding. You must wait.”

He took these words with him onto the bus, with the heaviness of a weary traveller carrying the world on their back. The driver clipped a hole in his return ticket and he took a seat on the half empty bus, being careful not to meet eyes or smile.

The panic was making his heart race so fast he put a hand on his chest to stop it leaping right out and disturbing his fellow passengers. What would he say? His wife. His child. They looked to him. They needed him strong.

His shoulders collapsed and he took a deep breath involuntarily, as if preparing to let out all his tears in a single flood; but a voice stopped him, and his breath left quietly, stilled by an urgent yearning to hear. 

It was his language. Someone was speaking his language!

He turned slowly, scared he’d find this to be a dream, a sound mirage spun by an unravelling mind. But no. 

There, three rows back, on the other side of the bus, was a man in his thirties, bouncing a young girl on his knee and telling her a story that was making her giggle and laugh with abandon. Unable to stop himself from staring, he was noticed, and the young girl pointed at him.

The father, or so he assumed, looked up, and the speed with which those eyes both recognised and felt his own pain, hit sharply in his ravaged chest. The stranger patted the seat beside him, and smiled.

“Come, share our story.”

And he did.

 

If you enjoyed this prompt, then you can find more here:

https://wordsthatserve.wordpress.com/upcoming-writing-workshops-and-some-prompts-for-you-to-play-with/

and here:

https://wordsthatserve.wordpress.com/writing-prompts-the-elements/

…light… – Writers’ Well

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And a new season of creative collaboration in a circle of courageous and compassionate creatives has begun! It’s been a joy to return to the weekly writing workshops I teach, and I’d like to share with you one of our recent prompts.

 

Each week, I share on this blog one of the writing prompts used in my workshops, along with an example of what was written in response. This week’s prompt was one that took me by surprise. It was light (:-) and playful, appealing to both the crossword/scrabble part of my mind (though I’m terrible at both – I don’t have the patience!) and the imaginative, creative and lyrical part.

 

Take a sheet of paper and write as many words or short phrases (each phrase can have up to 3 words) containing the word light. If you’re doing this as a group, write one and then pass the paper on to your right, receiving on your left, and adding to the lists collectively. Once this gathering is complete use the ideas generated to inspre a poem (or if poetry is not your thing, a piece of prose or a story).

For example:

delight

the light dazzled

moonlight on water

starlight…. etc etc

 

I actually did this prompt twice this week, with different groups. and I’m going to include both the pieces I wrote in response, because it fascinates me how differently we can respond to the same prompt on a different day, and within a different circle, although now I read them again, there are similarities! Enjoy:-)

 

So, here’s ‘Take one’:

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Will you be my lighthouse?

I fear the rocks

and storms are raging

 

Will you light my nights

oh silver moon

and keep me safe till day wakes?

 

and will you teach my feet

to tread softly

leaving only sole kisses on my path

 

and will you light the flame

that grows wings to lift me

into a flight of faith

 

that gives my perspective

enough height to see

the moving patterns in the shadow.

 

And  ‘Take two’:

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The spotlight is searching

but truth

sinks in the shadows

while the lighthouse

that used to warn

ships of the rocks

remains dark

and the moon does her best

but still the ships come

risking it all

on nights of no welcome

lightning flares

and captures faces

alive with shock

for a bright second

until obscurity returns

as the spotlight searches

the hungry restless waves.

 

Do you have a preference?

 

If you enjoyed this prompt, then you can find more here:

https://wordsthatserve.wordpress.com/upcoming-writing-workshops-and-some-prompts-for-you-to-play-with/

and here:

https://wordsthatserve.wordpress.com/writing-prompts-the-elements/

My Writer’s Box

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Last week I shared a post by http://www.itmeanshappyone.wordpress.com about creating your own ‘Writer’s Box’ in which to collect inspiration and food for the imagination! Well, this afternoon I made mine…

 

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This Writer’s Box is made of Flowers, Failure, Friends and Family, and honours the four elements; one side each for Earth, Air, Fire and Water.

Flowers: because the original box held the base of a bouquet of flowers sent to me by a dear friend, and part of the top is made of crocheted flower petals which were…a

Failure: …because they didn’t turn out the way they were supposed to, and weren’t used for their intended purpose…but I kept them. The scarf which lines the box also failed to turn out well enough to become the gift it had been intended as, but now softens and warms this nest, also fed by…

Friends: several of the items contained in the box were given to me by friends and…

Family: … including the card which I cut up and shared across the box’s four sides:

 

We must not allow the clock

and the calendar to blind us to the

fact that each moment of life

is a miracle and a mystery

H G WELLS

 

As I was making the box it occurred to me that creativity needs us to be soft, open and yielding as FLOWERS if we are to grow our unique gifts, and we must never fear FAILURE for if we do we’re beaten before we begin, and besides, this is how we grow and learn, as long as we have FRIENDS and FAMILY around to support and encourage us when we’re struggling, and to celebrate us when we shine.

 

 

This box of wonders and wanderings – through the memories and thought trails lit up by the responses arising from connecting with these items – will ever remain open and incomplete, as I will no doubt continue to add and use and discard elements of its contents, but I will share with you a few to be found there now…

Images:

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Miscellaneous:

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Gifts from nature:

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Bits of previous creative projects:

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…among other things.

 

While making this treasure trove of trinkets I chanced upon another aspect of creativity:

Creativity is endlessly inventive and generous, for I found all that I needed immediately to hand. The urge to create, if truly opened to, will overcome any obstacles or perceived ‘lack’ and find abundance and beauty in all that it meets.

 

I’ll let you know how I get on the first time I make use of the box, but for now I DARE you to make your own! It’s soooooo much fun! And the process feeds itself – who knows what you’ll find when you start searching… Enjoy!

Blessings

Harula x

 

 

There is a season – Writers’ Well

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Each week, I share one of the writing prompts used in my workshops, along with an example of what was written in response. Today’s prompt (we did it as a warm-up, so just 3 mins in total) is simply to connect with your favourite season, in that moment, and write about it. I chose Autumn, and this is what I wrote, unedited…

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Autumn is for abundance – bringing in and giving thanks for the harvest, the explosion of colour in the trees and the preparations as we prepare to move into the shorter days. Warm soups and open fires – new beginnings as school terms begin – and we come in from outside and begin to shift our focus inwards, for the light is becoming more golden and tired and the colder weather makes for brisk walks and buttoning up – it’s a transitional season when the intensity of summer’s joy and pace can slow down a little – we catch our breath and give thanks.

I’m reminded, as I type this up, of a song I wrote (wow, five years ago in turns out!) as I drove through a stunning Autumn landscape in the Scottish Highlands singing for my life as the beauty threatened to take my breath away, and not being able to take my hands off the wheel to write it down I had to repeat and repeat so I wouldn’t forget it…

I called it Colour My World…

 

Colour my world with the blue of the free skies

Colour my world with a rainbow of butterflies

Colour my world with the magic of evergreen

Colour my world with the silver of full moon sheen

Colour my world

Colour my world

Great Painter

 

*Chorus*

Beauty my world with all animals running free

Lighten my heart with the laughter that tickles me

Beauty my world

Lighten my heart

Creator

 

Colour my world with the pink cheeks of happiness

Colour my world with the grey on my father’s head

Colour my world with the soft white of feather down

Colour my world with the river’s rich peaty brown

Colour my world

Colour my world

Great painter

 

*Chorus*

 

Colour my world with the dark blue green oceans deep

Colour my world with the bright yellow blackbird’s beak

Colour my world with the red of the robin’s chest

Colour my world with the orange gold pink sunset

Colour my world

Colour my world

Great painter

Oh Beauty my world

Please Lighten my heart

Creator

 

What’s your favourite season?

 

If you enjoyed this prompt, then you can find more here:

https://wordsthatserve.wordpress.com/upcoming-writing-workshops-and-some-prompts-for-you-to-play-with/

and here:

https://wordsthatserve.wordpress.com/writing-prompts-the-elements/

 

 

Lost and Found – Writers’ Well

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Each week, I share one of the writing prompts used in my workshops, along with an example of what was written in response. Today’s prompt (allow about 10/12 mins in total) is called Lost and Found. First, jot down a few thoughts around what it feels like to be lost and/or to lose. This can be done on your own or, if in a group, pass the paper(s) around and collect a cross pollination of ideas to get the creative juices flowing. Now, write a short story entitled Lost and Found.

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This is what I wrote:

“He won’t know who you are, but don’t let that worry you. He’s a bit confused. Not his best day.”

It didn’t feel like an auspicious start. It was the first time he’d visited his grandfather since he’d been sent to the home. Mum had told him to wait, let Granddad settle first, before visiting, but he couldn’t wait.

The care worker led him through a series of corridors until Sean heard the unmistakable sound of background daytime TV over muffled chatter, and noted the smell of pink wafer biscuits.

His grandfather was sitting in a comfortable looking brown check armchair, eyes on the window rather than the TV. He didn’t hear Sean approach and shook with surprise when Sean laid a hand on his shoulder. “All right Pops?”

The old man turned a vacant stare from the window to Sean’s face and seemed to scan it in search of familiarity, Finding none, he barked “What do you want? I ‘ent buying nothing young man – I’ve all I need. Now go on with yeh!”

Sean took a step back, feeling warmth rise to his cheeks. “I’m not selling anything. It’s me Pops. I came to see how you were.”

The old man paused for a moment, getting Sean’s hopes up. Then something changed. Panic. The old eyes began to swim in a face at sea. “Where am I? This isn’t – Get away! Get away from me!” He tried to stand, but his right knee buckled and wouldn’t lift him.

Sean put a hand in his pocket and took out a pipe. “They won’t let you smoke it here, but this is yours. You used to let me light it for you if Mum wasn’t around.” He held the pipe out towards trembling hands and watched for a moment as his grandfather reached out, and came back.

“Sean? You brought my pipe. Thank you.”

 

If you enjoyed this prompt, then you can find more here:

https://wordsthatserve.wordpress.com/upcoming-writing-workshops-and-some-prompts-for-you-to-play-with/

and here:

https://wordsthatserve.wordpress.com/writing-prompts-the-elements/