I visited my friend Kathleen's high school creative writing class at The Northwest School today. It's a very cool alternative high school in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood, focusing on the Arts and the Environment. I read some poems, took questions, chatted a bit about poetry and medicine, publishing, the writing life.
Then we all did an exercise: a variation of the "Shake & Bake" poem I did at Centrum a couple years ago. But instead of using lines cut from their own poems, we took lines from several well-know poems by Ginsberg, Bishop, Plath, Oliver, Millay, Frost, and then mixed them up with lines the students wrote on slips of paper. Each student drew 10-12 lines, and spent about 15 minutes constructing a poem from the lines, which were then read out loud, or posted up on the board. It is always amazing to me what students can come up with in such a short time. Here are a couple examples:
Do it as you wish
the feel of felt
all drained of brilliance in the drear light of Zoo,
Yet knowing how leads on to way,
and her teacup full of dark brown tears.
Seven years, if you want to know.
I took the one less traveled by,
off Empire State out of moon,
And a head in the freakish Atlantic
Marble-heavy, a bag full of God.
Justice is blonde.
Random is the Best Order
in Newark's bleak furnished room,
she Bit my pretty red heart in two.
Yacketyyakking screaming vomiting whispering facts and memories
suffering Eastern sweats and Tangerian bone-grindings
floating across the tops of cities contemplating jazz,
who sank all night in submarine light of Bickford's
on the impulse of winter midnight street light smalltown rain,
FYI The end is coming.
I Love the Smell of Coffee
And my Taroc pack and my Taroc pack
The tongue stuck in my jaw,
and listening to the Terror through the wall,
So black no sky could squeak through.
whole intellects disgorged in total recall for seven days and nights
in which I have lived like a foot
Dreams come true.
Tulips on and organ.
Tell me, what it is you plan to do.
Thanks again Kathleen for inviting me to join your class!