There is something beautiful about being in a city in the morning, before the everyday hustle of townsfolk and tourists, when everything is calm, still, quiet. I had thought my volunteer shift was in the morning on Saturday of the Poetry Festival, but a confusion about the schedule enabled me to go to one of the local cafes for a coffee while I waited for the next event to start.
Writing outside is one of my favorite activities. With fresh air, oxygen-generating trees, and cute animals scurrying around everywhere, who could find a more inspiring place to put pen to paper? So when I signed up for the Urban Nature Ecopoetry Workshop, I expected to be outdoors for a while, writing. We ended up reading nature poems in Old Town Hall for most of the time and then going out towards the end. I was so inspired by the poems we went over that I started writing on the way to Old Burial Point. This is what I came up with:
There’s a bank, brick layers
stuck together with cement.
Apartment buildings and houses
with wooden planks, painted with
all kinds of chemicals to look
presentable, whites and grays,
and the occasional bright
pink or yellow or green.
Office buildings made of
metal, windows of glass
that shatter like broken dreams.
We know what these are.
We know what these are made of.
When you walk in the woods
all you see is green. You
don’t know if that’s a birch
or an oak. You can’t tell
which leaves on the ground
are poison ivy. we know only what
we create, we think only of
what we have done.
But these oakes and birches
and maples and ashes and aspens,
these beeches and chestnuts and elms
give us the air we breathe.
I like Nature. Can you tell?
From there, Editor Sara and I caught the end of the Poetry Carnival (see the photos below), presented by the Theatre of Words and Music website. It was still nice to see some familiar faces and experience a different way poetry can be expressed. And we got to hear a poem!
I went from being outside in nature to being in a room writing about work. A bit of a difference there. But Marjorie Tesser, editor for Mother Egg Review, got our creative juices flowing and helped us realize our experiences with the sounds and smells of our workplaces, and prompted us to write poems about our work prompted from poems in a packet she’d given us. Here’s what I came up with, unedited:
Tools of the Trade
If you were to ask me
“What tools are part of your trade,”
you’re asking for physical things
like pens and paper clips, monitors
and keyboards, an office chair
where you hunch over your computer
as if everything could disappear
from teh screen in a moment’s notice.
But there are other tools,tools
you can’t see
non-physical tools you have at your
disposal. Your mind, your heart,
the atmosphere of your workplace
and words. Words that pop into my
mind, plucked out of a distant memory.
Words you may have heard for the
first time that day but you
can’t get out of your head.
Words that taste good on your tongue.
Words you didn’t know you knew.
Punctuation. You use that in your trade,
don’t you? Question marks placed
strategically near things you don’t know.
Exclamation points because what
you just wrote is awesome!
Put a comma here, take it away from
Yeah, I started losing steam here, in case you couldn’t tell. This is why editing is important.
While you wait to hear more about the Mass Poetry Festival, here are a few writing prompts I made based on the events I discussed today. Feel free to write poetry or prose with these!
- What is one of your favorite places to visit? Why? Are there many people there? What time of the day is it? Write a short story that takes place here. It can be fiction or non fiction!
- Look out your window. Now write a poem based on the nature you see outside.
- Think about what you hear and smell at work. What are the first words that come to your mind that describe these or how they make you feel?