Friday, May 09, 2008
“Do not feel left out when your school, church, Zen center, daycare center has a bazaar, carnival, rummage sale. Don’t think you have nothing to contribute. Simply set up a spontaneous writing booth. All you need is a pile of blank paper, some fast-writing pens, a table, a chair, and a sign saying, ‘Poems on Demand’ or ‘Poems in the Moment’ or ‘You name the subject, I’ll write on it.’”
“You must be fearless and willing to lose everything at any moment. With the writing booth there is the opportunity to be a great warrior: you must let go of everything as you write and then in handing it over to the customer.”
Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones (1986)
While an undergraduate student in English at S.U.N.Y. New Paltz (1987-1991), I had the thrill of being excessively involved in the English Club and the literary mag they produced, The Accordion Flyer. (I’m reading an issue of Accordion Flyer in the picture.) When I arrived at New Paltz, current English Club President was Gail Vorbach. Gail had read Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones and suggested we set up a writing booth in the Student Center and offer Spontaneous Poetry for 25 cents a pop. Several folks participated in the writing end of things, and numerous customers plucked down their quarter for a poem. We kept no copies of our poems, just gave them over to the customers. It was a freeing experience, and a rare writing experience for me—as I always revise my writing (sometimes as much as fifty rewrites!)
So I’m feeling nostalgic. Here’s the concept. Each Friday (or at least once a week) I’m going to write a Spontaneous Poem for this blog. I will post it as a scan of the handwritten page. The poem will never be revised further. And I am inviting my readers and friends to command the assignment. Give me a topic or challenge. Anything goes. Email your assignment to me any time between Wednesday and Friday. I might do more than one per week if I have time. But I’ll start with the first one that arrives that week. I don’t want to have much time to think about the assignment, so don’t send it earlier than Wednesday. Any questions? Email me at thebeardedpoet at hot mail dot com!
For today’s Spontaneous Poem, I simply randomly selected three words from my word envelopes (one noun, one verb, one adjective).
Swipe Judicious Violet
I give this poem away! If any of you finds anything of interest here, feel free to take it, claim it as your own. Also feel free to steal the idea of Spontaneous Poetry. I hope to see your booth at the next craft fair!