Tag Archives: abstract writing

my body awakened after clutching it out of your bones

rainbow lines on a brick wallThere’s quite a bit I want to write about this morning. We went to see For Colored Girls last night, and I honestly don’t know if I can talk more about it before I completely re-read the text. It’s definitely a Tyler Perry joint, it’s definitely, too, worth seeing. There’s a graphic rape scene — just know that, ok? And quite a bit of other graphic violence. Shange’s words are amazing, and seeing spoken-word on screen is always a delight. See it, and maybe go with someone you can head to the coffee shop with afterward so you can keep on dishing and talking about what you just saw.

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This morning I’m thinking about that room of our own, about writing retreats and residencies, about making space and time for our creative voices and visions. About having room to breathe under capitalism, having room to cry and think, having room to risk and imagine. Just thinking. That’s what I’ve got time and money for right now. But that’s a lot.

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I’ve got a write to share with you that comes from a craft prompt — something intended to get us into abstract or surreal writing, something intended to get us out of our usual linear, narrative sense-making. This is another one we did at the Post-Certification Training this past weekend.

One version of the exercise: Write for four minutes about something difficult or sad — try to really get into the emotion and the details. Then break, and write for four minutes about something that  brings you joy  or makes you happy. Then, on a separate page, write out a new draft of both pieces, alternating one line from each piece. Make sense?

so, if I write:

She walked slow in the morning
waiting for lost terrors
to strip her feet bare
and wake her joints

and then I write

the morning sun fills every ventricle
lifts the stun of my eyes
to the trees outside my window,
falling leaves illuminated, like laughter.

then the ‘final’ version would look like:

She walked slow in the morning
the morning sun fills every ventricle
waiting for lost terrors
lifts the stun of my eyes
to strip her feet bare
to the trees outside my window,
and wake her joints
falling leaves illuminated, like laughter.

Interesting, no? And then you have that draft to work with, to begin to tell stories you might not have told otherwise!

The version we did this weekend involved three four-minute writes, and then taking all that raw material and doing more of a cut-up type exercise, where we patched together all the raw material however we wanted, working not to make linear sense, and not just alternating line by line.

Here’s my response to that prompt (I love this kind of thing):

I can’t give you the body of this redactive visage — work down into that orange pain and find crumpled up alone on the hard plastic chairs all those peering through goggled spectacles, just the sound unravels the spools of this tiny allegiance, some tomahawk woodpecker, a shadow where your reality was. The answering doorknock, that constant pounding: yes  yes  between a stepdaughter’s legs — this is the loud silence that follows all my caverns and aches, how a stone caught in the center of my body, how the scent brooms out what the newly-carpeted floor has flushed in. Through the backs of my eyes I can put my thumb into this morning, a soul-keen kind of time, find the metal core, the heartbeat I’ve been waiting for, stick your fingers hot under breastbone or tendon made nervous by her brown-eyed watching. Crows playing gypsy, where I first learned how words could be made into my enemy. This is my body awakened after clutching it out of your bones — Make a whisper or an echo or a deviation when he came for his feeding    the thick stab in your pants learned lessons about betrayal and unconditional love. She growled at the man like an anchor or anger. S0me hawk screaming blue angels yes of the sea we sat in the inseams of my brain she made a small sound, soft green seaside morning, all my lost memories thick slosh in and out, make a ghost there, uncried, into the wash of sound. Take my story, did we, the one beloved black dog, her curled up wrinkle a high school tension while she planted herself in me under the long shadow of redwoods, a very small sound eyebrows apply your image across my hands, I want only a cortisone shot of wonder and confusion.

Thank you for the ways you allow yourself not to make sense, not to over-explain, not to fall into someone else’s narrative of you — thank you for your writing, your words, your witness.