Last summer I attended a writing conference for the first time in many years, and for the first time since I completed a graduate degree in Creative Writing degree (2015). I needed to choose what workshops to take. At first I was drawn to fiction classes – that is my main area of writing. But the night before the conference I decided to do just the opposite – I took workshops in things I did not know well – poetry, personal essay.
That turned out to be an inspiring choice.
I took three poetry classes, and each one was an amazing experience. I don’t consider myself a poet – I write poetry only for myself – but learning more about poetry makes my writing more lyrical. It turned out to be a terrific choice.
Today for Throwback Thursday, I would like to share a poem from one of the conference workshops with you. In this workshop, we all came into the room and sat down together, expecting to write from poetry prompts, example poems, etc. Instead, the instructor told us we were to go outside and find a rock, any rock, whatever size, shape, color, weight it might be. Then we were to spend a few minutes studying the rock. Holding it, feeling it, smelling it, even touch it with our tongue, if desired. And then … to listen to the rock.
“Hold it up to your ear,” she said. “See if you can hear what it says.”
Hmmm. O…K… This was pretty unstructured, especially for an engineering mind like mine. But part of me was very excited.
I went outside, down the steps of the building (in the background of the photo below), and out to the parking lot. A lovely rock, that’s what I was after. I could picture it in my mind. A beautifully colored rock with depth in its colors, maybe an agate or milky quartz. Or even one of those perfectly smooth perfectly round slate-gray stones that populate our Puget Sound beaches.
Then I saw this rock. It was lying at the edge of the parking lot. I wanted to pass by – it was too ugly and misshapen – it was broken! – to be a good subject for my poem. Too ordinary.
I tried to walk by – I did walk by – but only a few steps further on I turned back. This rock was not beautiful to look at.
But perhaps it had a story to tell.
After examining the rock, holding it up to my ear to see what it said – yes, I did that – I wrote a poem. Actually, I wrote several short poems. This one (below) is one of my favorites.
I hope you enjoy it! And writing about it today reminds me that sometimes the most ordinary things in our lives are the things with a story to tell.
This Broken Rock Was Found on the Side of the Parking Lot No ruffles this one Not agate Not smooth except on one face. Not a skipping rock. A broken heart flintknapped lost edges a tiger's tooth Its inner walls insane not quiet, perturbed Not Innocent.
Please feel free to share your thoughts, about ordinary things or ordinary moments, about how you find inspiration for your own poetry and writing, or unexpected discoveries in everyday life!