Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Writing exercises/play

Today I attended a workshop with poet Claire Gaskin (author of a bud). She talked about truthtelling and I found it an amazing session, pushing me to write in a way I wouldn't normally and making me think about writing from a place that I am not entirely comfortable with. She made me think about writing as risky and dangerous, about the brain in crisis, about finding your truth and telling it. Claire quoted Hemingway: 'What did I know about truly and care for the most?' We began the class writing a 5 minute autobiography. As we read them out, one of the students, Rachael (who is very interested in experimenting with abstraction) folded her piece of paper in half, reading out only the left half of her autobiography. I've done the same thing here.

Half a five minute autobiography
[crossing out] I am from a
mother of daughters. I left
the 1990s. The island groans
making tracks.
I fill my head with ideas
from my brain. I am
my girls. I am Penni
and teenagers, freelance
in bed, I can't drive
recognise myself in the
cake. I am Undine I am
my oldest daughter Frederique
will be me (she told me)

1. Freewriting exercise: write what you know. When you've filled the page, write one truth. Use that truth as your first line and see where it takes you.
2. Take a line of a poem and rewrite it five times changing the order of the words. Be free and silly, the aim is to play with it, not to make sense. Read it aloud and see where you've ended up. Try it with your own sentences. (Feel free to share in the comments if you'd feeling brave.)


  1. Anonymous9:20 AM

    Wow. I just read your poem aloud to my sister and got chills.

    Thanks for sharing it. I'm going to try it soon...

  2. Anonymous8:23 AM

    Few things are as revealing or as controlling as writing the truth about one's self. It is, in a way, exorcism by written exhibitionism. Props for engaging.

  3. Thanks Marjorie!
    Hmm, interesting comment Sarah. I must admit I do often raid my own life, but it's usually very veiled - I embed it in layers of character and story. So it was at once interesting, difficult and actually quite painful to read, very raw and exposed. I don't keep a diary because I find my diary voice extremely annoying to read.