“We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, but of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry.” –William Butler Yeats
I cannot believe it’s taken me nearly all month to remember that it is, in fact, National Poetry Month. I think I may have skimmed over something in the deluge of news clips and overthought, under-edited articles that pervade my cyber space, but in a world where days blend together, I nearly missed it.
You know what coming next, don’t you?
Oh,I’m not being lazy! It’s good practice!
And its more a matter of economy–I’ve got end-of-school projects due and a Black Belt Progress check this week, and therefore, my plate is a little full. So this week your exercise is simple. Go outside, mask it up if you find yourself in a bustling park, of course, but if it’s a deserted early morn, breathe the un fettered air, allow a scrap of paper and pen to tag along with you.
Take ten minutes of just being aware of the moment. What do you see? What do you hear? What do you feel? What do you smell? Use these observations and notice how they filter and affect the thoughts already on your mind. Have a quarrel with yourself and see what arguments emerge. What solutions? What epiphanies?
Then go find yourself a favorite place to sit and write me a poem.
I was going to give you some restrictions but I think we’ve all had enough of those. Any length, any form, rhyming or blatantly against, iambic pentameter–why the f%*k not? Limerick or Odyssey, dark or light, whatever is on the tip of your brain, no matter how sharp or dull.
Send them along, and let me know if you want me to include them in the weeks to come.
Happy Wednesday good people of the world. Extra Happy Wednesday to the bad ones…since you probably need more happy.
Today, I’m writing about the beauty of the human senses.
The human senses are invaluable to a writer, being the most surefire way to engage your reader in what the main character is feeling/seeing/hearing/tasting/smelling and, if you’re really good at the descriptive narrative, making them feel as though they are feeling/seeing/hearing/tasting/smelling the same things.
Senses are powerful. The words you choose to describe them must be impeccable to harness this power.
I realize, if you aren’t a writer, you may feel left out. Well I never leave a person behind, so hang on.
Why in the hell does a human need to explore their senses if they’re not showing someone the glint of moonlight on glass?
Well, hear me out, human.
Every single one of us, writer or no, deserves to indulge in our senses.
Why? Why is it important?
Well, shucks! Thanks for asking, new paragraph that makes my self-questioning seem rational…
Because part of living beautifully, is living with purpose which is closely tied to living in the moment, and living in the moment has everything to do with connecting to what is real, around you presently…not the feeling of a chair you sat in five days ago, or the way spring will smell eight months from now.
I’m talking about being present through the use of gifts you’ve been given.
Sit still for Christ’s sake. Seriously. Just sit.
Someplace safe and comfortable, turn off your goddamn phone, close your eyes and listen.
Take a deep breath, really hear the wave of it rush in and out against the shore of your throat. Listen to what you can only hear when you stop moving, and worrying, and obsessing. Bird chatter, the quiet hum of the neighbors AC unit (hey, not every sound is some natural wonder sent to give you soulful clarity.) Maybe it’s the squeal of tires outside or the school bell in the distance. Now, before you start having judgments or memories, or ideas that are inspired by what you can hear in silence, let those noises go. Let them pass through your brain like clouds in a sky. Take a deep breath.
What do you smell? Last night’s dinner, the oily basset at your feet (who’s probably cracking off the most horrific clouds of flatulence you’ve ever suffered through—wipe your eyes, try to get past it).
Maybe it’s soap (the decadent scent of a man newly showered) or maybe you smell the old books on your desk, the bed linens behind you and all the interesting smells that reside there. (Remember, basset or sheets, reserve your judgement.)
Open your eyes, focus on the small details, try to descern the exact colors, watch the play of shadows and the shimmer of reflections.
When you walk through gardens, through stores, through life, hold out your hand and touch things (no butts please…or unwilling butts? Don’t go touching unwilling participants is what I’m saying…stick to the inanimate). Touch fabric, leaves, dead branches and icicles, let the dog passing by snuffle your hand and leave its viscous slobber behind. Touch your hair, the arch of your foot, the base of your nose, tug on your ear lobe…how different it all is! How does it feel to be touched in those strange little places? Get to know your own body and the sensitivity of your fingertips.
When you sit down to eat, really taste your food. Keep it on your tongue and think about what’s going on there. When you kiss someone, taste them, their lips, their breath, the
flavor of them and their body chemistry…it is different for everyone and that’s something fascinating to explore.
Finally…and this is an important one…your gut. The so-called sixth sense. Intuition. IT’s there. IT’s often drown out by the madness of our modern world, the overstimulation and cultural rules and denial of the naysayers who believe humans are so far above ‘animals’ that we no longer need such ‘witchcraft’.
Tell those voices to stuff it. Listen to your gut. Listen to your intuition. If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. You’re still an animal and don’t forget it. Don’t get too lost in the modern world. Remember, use the gifts biology and genetics gave you.
IF you are a writer, use these exercises to bring clarity and realism to your work.
If you’re a normal human with a ‘real’ day job (oooo self-burn!), use these exercises to be more present in your own life—to slow down time and remember what you are; A beautiful, messy human being with magical guts, wandering eyes, soft to the touch, with angry squirrels chattering on rooftops, smelly bassets underfoot, and a taste for the sensuality all around.