Exquisite Collaboration Poem: BRIGHT MORNING I AM MEANT TO BE

This image was provided by Anne Murphy.

BRIGHT MORNING I AM MEANT TO BE
(a collaborative poem)

Hello darkness, my old friend, as time’s incessant pendulum swings yet again.
Adios thinking, being, self-realization.

Billionaires with their dragon-hoards
Sit still and get stupid.
Fields of control rampant,
Strength in numbers, working poor,
Deeper questioning, open-ended.

Hello frigid, bright morning

There is a light on in the living room – just a candle in the window, but it lifts my heart with joy because I know he’ll be up, anticipating.
Goodbye to what you knew, to what you said,
Hello to what you will know, to what you will say.

Hello another trip around the sun.
.
She raises her hand and waves it, but it’s nigh on dark and I can only imagine her there, hand up, lips in a smile, standing a little on tippy-toe, to reach over the high gate.

Goodbye Daylight.
Goodbye short sleeves and sandals.
Goodbye the last trip around the sun.
Goodbye to what no longer aligns with me.

Hello to what I believe is what I am meant to be.

* * * * * * * * * *

THE POETS
Janet Coburn
Miki M
Maur J DeLaney
dwa
Jack
Justin Rielly
Yvonne DiVita, founder of Nurturing Big Ideas
Lynne

* * * * * * * * * *

THE IMAGE
Photographer and artist Anne Murphy provided the image for this poem, altering a photo she found on Pixabay. Anne was given only the prompts when she offered to provide the image.

* * * * * * * * * *

THE POEM PROMPT
Our contributors were asked to provide two lines, the first prompted by Hello and the second prompted by Goodbye. They could begin the line with those words or just use them to inspire their contribution. Their two lines could be full sentences, fragments, lists, single words – whatever they wanted. The two lines were then separated from each other and rearranged to create the poem you just read.

* * * * * * * * * *

This Exquisite Collaboration Project is based on the Exquisite Corpse, a technique created by Surrealists in the early 1900s, in which participants add to a work with no one seeing what the other participants contributed. My goal is to encourage non-writers and artists to embrace their creative selves in a safe, supportive, “you can’t fail” environment.  What began as a way to maintain some sort of connection with other people during the early days of the Covid lockdown has continued to unite strangers from around the world in creative collaboration.

Click here to read the series of Exquisite Poems and to find the links to the current prompt so you can join in the fun.

To learn more about my workshops, visit my website.

Exquisite Collaboration Poem: THE WEIGHT OF IN BETWEEN

Photo (c) Beth Boatright

THE WEIGHT OF IN BETWEEN
(a collaborative poem)

Transition is the main theme of my life,
trepidation around stepping into the unknown.
The transition from wife to widow is like the transition from spring to winter;
something was lost in translation.
No longer allowed to teach Mockingbird?
So impossible to understand.
Did anyone fight this?
Get off your ass and do something!
I feel the sun pulling me outdoors.
Another warmest month ever recorded,
helping me transition from there to here,
never knowing if the demons in the shadows are real or only my imagination.
Sometimes the burden of coming out repeatedly is heavy, like elephants swimming.
Or transition.
Vulnerability to overflow the confines of expectation and assumption,
strength to expand into galaxies of authenticity and wholeness,
curiosity and excitement about the future.

* * * * * * * * *

THE POETS

C.W. Rainbeaux
Mickey Cherry
LDA
Greene King
Maur J DeLaney
Jack
Yvonne DiVita, Founder of Nurturing Big Ideas

* * * * * * * * *

THE PROMPT

For this month, contributors provided two lines prompted by the word TRANSITION. Those lines were then used to create a free verse poem.

* * * * * * * * *

THE PHOTO

For every poem, I ask someone to provide an image, photo, picture of their own artwork, whatever they want offer up to go with the poem. Here’s the thing: they get ONLY the prompt. They don’t get to see anyone’s submissions or the finished piece. This month, I posted on Facebook, said I needed an image, explained the prompt was “TRANSITION”, and I’d take the first image offered up and that it would be the right answer.

Beth Boatright, who’s participated before in some off these poems and gets that the process really is about making an offer and letting the creative gods sort it out, responded right away with this photo of the produce section, saying, “That’s the first pic in my camera roll that strikes me as evocative of transition. I was surprised that they [the bananas] were edible in just two days.”  Perfect.

* * * * * * * * *

This Exquisite Collaboration Project is based on the Exquisite Corpse, a technique created by Surrealists in the early 1900s, in which participants add to a work with no one seeing what the other participants contributed. My goal is to encourage non-writers and artists to embrace their creative selves in a safe, supportive, “you can’t fail” environment.  What began as a way to maintain some sort of connection with other people during the early days of the Covid lockdown has continued to unite strangers from around the world in creative collaboration.

Click here to read the series of Exquisite Poems and to find the links to the current prompt so you can join in the fun.

To learn more about my workshops, visit my website.

Exquisite Collaboration Poem: HOPE FOR THE NEW YEAR 2022

One of my new paintings, as yet untitled. (c) Joanne Brokaw

A note about this poem:

During the November Holiday Shop Hop at Central Creatives Co-Work of Art, I invited visitors and shoppers to write on an index card one hope they had for the new year and then clip the card to string I had hanging around the entrance to my studio. I explained that these would then be combined to create a community poem. This was the first in-person poem I’d facilitated since the Covid lockdown began in 2020.

Most people were skeptical at first, until I explained that they only had to  write one hope they had for the new year – the rest of the poem would work itself out. I added that they shouldn’t try to be funny and don’t overthink it. I loved watching people’s faces when they finally grasped the concept; even the most resistant took time to jot down a thought and quietly clip it up with the rest of the cards.

Well, here’s what you all came up with!

Every contribution was included: 37 cards, 37 lines, from all ages, sorted into hopes, frustrations, and positive intentions for the coming year. The only changes I made were to capitalization and punctuation. Nothing else was changed to force it to fit. This is what is is, and that’s what it is supposed to be.

My hope for the new year is that you know that you are born of the heavens and stardust courses through your veins. May you be a willing portal for creativity, innovation, and community in 2022. xo

At the end of this post, you can read more about the Exquisite Collaboration Project, and find links to past collaborative poems.

And now, the poem….

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

HOPE FOR THE NEW YEAR 2022

My hope is that Melania and Ivanka can bury the hatchet since they’ll be roommates at the crowbar hotel.

I hope that empathy find its way back into the hearts of the people,
for everyone to be treated equally,
hoping that people can be kind to each other and respect one another again.
More common sense.
Less division.

Will it get better?
For the new year, I want Covid 19 dead.

Celebrate the small things:
Happy, healthy family
Beautiful clouds
Rock hunting Lake Ontario by moonlight
Finding joy in my art
Healthy new granddaughter; a peaceful, loving community; an end to the division in our country.

I hope my fantasy football team wins.

To discover my purpose and live it every day,
I want a cat.
I would like to stop putting things off until tomorrow,
find more “heart” in all I do.
I hope for improved health and well being for all of my loved ones and a bright future for all.

My hope is to find my soul-mate in 2022.

My sister and I have a better relationship.
More open hearts, ease,
more sunshine, less pain.
Joy and self love!

Finding hope again.

My hope is for the humans to treat other humans equally,
build bridges to end these divides,
find more gratitude,
joy and peace, contentment,
the end of Covid worldwide.

I hope that I will be successful in going through the college process.
I hope my future explodes like a supernova, so bright!
To take a journey, enjoy the adventure and have a new story to share,
to be happy without others,
you are exactly where you’re supposed to be right now. You can only compare yourself with yourself.

Hoping that the world heals, in as many ways as possible.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

THE POETS, in no particular order:

Laurie Dobson
Chris Hipps
Lynne
Ella Eckert
Amy Krecker
Nancy@scavengedthoughts
Joan R.D.
Christina G
Wendy Kaiser
Connie Gaylord
Marilyn
Sue Anulis
Remi
Marcella
Mark Groaning
Beth
Maxwell M Clement
Alex Eckert
Toto
Lisa
and those contributors who wished to remain Anonymous

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

THE PAINTING

The method I use to paint requires a lot of mess, some experimentation, and then patience to let the paint do its own thing and let the images or message reveal itself in its own good time. This is one of my new paintings. It started as a giant mess – I mean, it was a disaster – and I was going just to scrape the canvas and start over. But I was tired and decided to leave it overnight and deal with it in the morning. I was delighted when I checked on it  – the colors had settled and images started to emerge. It’s exactly the process we used in this poem – I took what we had and let it reveal itself when it was ready..

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

This Exquisite Collaboration Project is based on the Exquisite Corpse, a technique created by Surrealists in the early 1900s, in which participants add to a work with no one seeing what the other participants contributed. My goal is to encourage non-writers and artists to embrace their creative selves in a safe, supportive, “you can’t fail” environment.  What began as a way to maintain some sort of connection with other people during the early days of the Covid lockdown has continued to unite strangers from around the world in creative collaboration.

Click here to read the series of Exquisite Poems done during the Covid lockdown along with other collaborative projects, and to find the links to the current prompt so you can join in the fun.

To learn more about my workshops, visit my website.

Join author & artist Joanne Brokaw on Small Business Saturday, November 27, 2021

Join me and the other artists at Central Creatives for a three day holiday pop up event on Black Friday weekend. Stop up Friday 11/26, Saturday 11/27, or Sunday 11/28 for some beautiful, unique items from local artisans.

I’ll be there throughout the weekend but I hope you’ll stop up on Small Business Saturday between 11 am and 4 pmI’ll have signed copies of “Suddenly Stardust” available for purchase as well as a selection of jewelry, bookmarks, ornaments, photo frames, and a bunch of discounted “less than perfect” items. And as an added treat, throughout the day I’ll be doing mini-readings of some of your favorite columns as well as book excerpts and new micro flash fiction. All weekend you’ll be able to contribute to a collaborative poem, and who knows? I might even give some stuff away.

Central Creatives is located at 349 West Commercial Street, in the Piano Works Mall, East Rochester, NY, 14445, right off 490. Park at the end of the plaza near Ferrari Pizza and enter through the red door between Weaving Arts Guild and Penn Fair Golf. Then just follow the signs to the second floor (via stairs or elevator). Use the gallery entrance to get to my studio. There’s plenty of free, accessible parking at Piano Works and lovely restaurants nearby – make a day of it!

Visit me at online http://www.joannebrokaw.com.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Exquisite Collaboration Poem: The Land of I Don’t Know

(c) Rebecca Flanders; used with permission

THE LAND OF I DON’T KNOW

I used to be in a town called Panic
in Charleston, SC,
floating in a lake of despair wondering, “How many clouds do I swallow to keep my head above water?”
I once was lost, but now am found,
involved,
trapped between layers of ether,
in steamy heat and a cacophony of cicadas surrounding me

I don’t know where I’m going now.
To the land of I don’t know?
Let it go, let it go, that perfect girl is gone,
back to Alaska someday
to trust my inner voice again and walk into the thick mist which seems to wrap its arms around me.
I’m going to create magic, mischief, & mayhem
wherever I choose.

I learned what everyone else learns – adulting can be hard sometimes.
I’m going to continue traveling because I enjoy learning about history
to embrace the chaos in order to organize it.
Together we will seek out and entwine our arms around each other like the roots of the tree and walk onward grounded in our truth,
everything, and nothing at all.
If it makes you happy do it!
You belong among the wild flowers; you belong somewhere you feel free.

*    *    *    *    *    *    *

THE POETS

Justin Rielly
Laurie Borcyk
Penelope Horan
Mindy Wells Hoffbauer
Mickey Cherry
Coriander in the Spice Rack
MNL

PHOTOGRAPHER
(c) 2021 Rebecca Flanders

* * * * * * *

THE POEM

This month’s prompt asked contributors to respond to three questions:

Where did you used to be?
Where are you going?
What’s something you’ve learned along the way?

Originally, each person’s responses were going to stay together to form each stanza, but when I saw the submissions it was clear that if I removed the the sentence intros of “I used to be” or “I am doing”, collectively each person’s responses to each question  organically built on each other.  So in the final poem, the seven answers to “Where did you used to be” make up the first stanza; the seven responses to “Where are you going?” make up the second stanza; same with the last.

I confess that this might be one of my favorite pieces so far.

Thanks to Rebecca Flanders who has been chronicling her up close and personal interactions with cicadas all summer, and was willing to share a photo to go with this poem.

*********************

This Exquisite Collaboration Project is based on the Exquisite Corpse, a technique created by Surrealists in the early 1900s, in which participants add to a work with no one seeing what the other participants contributed. My goal is to encourage non-writers and artists to embrace their creative selves in a safe, supportive, “you can’t fail” environment.  What began as a way to maintain some sort of connection with other people during the early days of the Covid lockdown has continued to unite strangers from around the world in creative collaboration.

Click here to read the series of Exquisite Poems done during the Covid lockdown along with other collaborative projects.

To learn more about my workshops, visit my website.

To be part of future poem projects, follow me on Facebook @joannebrokawwriter for prompts or join my mailing list by filling out the form on my website.

Get back to work, Buttercup: a”Suddenly Stardust” reminder for myself

“Suddenly Stardust: A Memoir (of sorts) About Fear, Freedom & Improv”, in progress, 2018

This morning, a memory popped up on Facebook reminding me that three years ago today I was almost done writing what would become “Suddenly Stardust: A Memoir (of sorts) About Fear, Freedom & Improv”. At the time, the book had no name and was a pile of loosely connected thoughts and ideas, but I was in the midst of the most creatively productive phase of my entire life and I knew in my soul that what I was writing would be transformative for both myself and anyone who needed to hear the message.

Three year later, and this book is not a best seller. It’s not a mildly mediocre seller. I don’t even promote it that often because I feel guilty taking money from people. But then I remember that my publisher needs to eat, too, and part of my job as an author is to not just write but also sell books.

I sold two copies “Suddenly Stardust” at an open house last week at Central Creatives CoWork of Art, where I recently moved into studio space. I wasn’t even talking about the book. I was just talking with people about pour painting and improv/writing classes I have coming up and the power of “Yes And” in all of them. People spotted the book themselves – or the book called them to itself as it sat all pretty on a display table. I don’t know how the magic of book sales works.

But it was a good feeling to know those books were going home with someone who might read the words and find courage to take a chance, to try something new, or at least see the world a little differently the next day.

Right now, I’m no longer in a creatively productive phase. In fact, I’m in a rut – physically, emotionally, mentally – which is especially frustrating since 1) my job is to help other people through their own creative ruts; 2) I have boatloads of resources at my fingertips so I have no excuses; and 3) at the new studio space I’m surrounded by wildly creative and incredibly supportive people.

I’ve been blaming this funk in on Mercury being in retrograde, and there’s some truth to that. But it’s also just been an exhausting, exhausting, exhausting 18 months and, while some wonderful things have definitely happened during lockdown, the struggle of trying to find the silver linings and keep moving forward while also being stuck in place is finally catching up. It would be easy to sit back and wallow in that.

Then I realize that sometimes I need to go back and read my own words, because when it comes down to it, I wrote them for myself as much as for the reader. And so my message to myself today?

“You’ve got business to attend to, Buttercup. The world is waiting.”

from “Suddenly Stardust: A Memoir (of sorts) About Fear, Freedom & Improv”

No one is asking me to move mountains. Just to put one foot in front of the other. Just to type a few words on a page. Just to open a bottle of paint and make a few brush strokes. I don’t need to know the next step or the end result or the why of anything. Just that if I’m not contributing my part – insignificant as it might seem to me – I may be holding someone else up, which holds someone else up, and on and on and on.

You can find “Suddenly Stardust” in ebook, paperback, and hardcover at your favorite online retailer. Or you can just click here: https://amzn.to/39zRZLs

If you’re interested in classes, workshops, and other events, or if you’re looking for a speaker for your next event, visit my website.

EXQUISITE COLLABORATION POEM: A Day In Our Room

12:59 pm. Building a kitchen, Dansville NY
(photo courtesy Mike Clemons)

Note: This collaborative work was created during National Poetry Month with participants across the US and around the world. At the end, you can see a list of the participants and information about the prompt.

A DAY IN OUR ROOM

A chilly, rainy spring morning
In my Springboro, Ohio, US kitchen
Shiny granite countertops, stained-glass back splash, a blooming white orchid, new leaves emerging from acres of trees, a sleepy ginger tabby tom
My bougie cat’s water fountain, the refrigerator humming, typing fingers click-clacking away in fits and starts, slow deep breaths
A chair warm from sitting too long, the lined texture from my mouse’s scroll wheel, the random whiskers on my chin
The kitchen hand soap’s lingering vanilla scent, freshly ground coffee beans
My cinnamon toothpaste

8a.m.
Bedroom, Rochester, NY
Cat, morning light, curtains, photos, memories
Purring, birds, quiet, hope
Fur, bedsheets, comfort
Candle, morning
Peace

9:30 a.m.
Rochester, NY, 2nd floor home “office”
“I Voted Today” sticker, jar of butterscotch candies, upstairs hallway, calculator, Wi-Fi thingie
Keys on my laptop, Pandora music stream, my breathing, scratchiness of unshaven face
Fingertips on fingertips (spider doing push-ups on a mirror), computer mouse, scissors
Soapy smell of hands, coffee – really, you too?
Triple berry yogurt

9:30 a.m.
Living room, sitting in my rocking chair, looking out the window
Snow, trees, yellow, pillows, hands
Birds, furnace, thoughts, breath
Mug, pen, heart
Heat, citrus
Coffee

9:32 a.m.
At my desk in an international school in Hong Kong
Smelly markers, green grass, masks, lipstick, my lunch
Vowel practice, playground chatter, air con humming, chair squeaks
Curly hair, a new wart, tangled phone cord
New Jo Malone, bleach
Lavender toothpaste

10:25 a.m.
My couch in Texas
Squirrel, creek, tree, sculpture, sky
Airplane, siren, traffic, voices
Laptop, blanket, mug
Fresh air, leftovers
Coffee

11:16 a.m.
My desk
Computer, lamp, mug, scissors, frame
Chirping, snoring, raindrops, train whistle
Paper, printer, phone
Lotion, lemon
Water

11:29 a.m.
My favorite chair in the family room, Vero Beach, Florida, US
Mug, sofa, cat, computer, bookcase
TV, traffic, air conditioner, husband talking
Keyboard, computer mouse, pencil
Remnants of breakfast, coffee
Aftertaste of peach yogurt

11:30 a.m. in the morning
Sitting at the table in my great room looking outside in the suburbs of Pittsburgh, PA
Birds, butterflies, books, bench, beauty all around me
Music, wind chimes, clock ticking, birds chirping
Mug, table, chair
Coffee, wet plant soil
Coffee

11:58 a.m.
East Rochester, NY, US
My sister, the television, three lamps, a dreary day outside, dog toys
Voices on a TV show, music from the same show, dogs outside talking to each other, birds chastising the squirrels in the food dishes
My iPad screen, my coffee mug, the remote
Coffee, air freshener
Coffee

Morning work hours
A safe place, USA
Roses in a vase, computer screen, credit card, reminder note, rain
Children bustling, husband’s work meeting, food wrapper, rain
Wood desk, smooth keys, cozy sweater
Dust (ha!), rain
Oatmeal

12:25 p.m.
On a couch in my daughter’s home in Lititz, PA, USA
Folded laundry, three lime green pillows, a bag of Reese’s pieces, a pencil with a cow topper, a charging cord
The fire siren, an amber alert on my phone, a ticking clock, clicking of laptop keys
A TV tray, my laptop, my coffee mug
Rotting lilies in a nearby vase, a watermelon candle
My morning coffee

12:55 p.m.
Rochester, NY, USA, my bedroom office
Computer monitor, window, printer, wall, calculator
Rain, computer fan, grandkid singing, cars on wet road
Chair, desk, keyboard
Cat box, the shoes I just took off
Left over pieces of lunch in my teeth

2:00 p.m.
Home office space, in a comfy office chair, green screen behind me, in Bangor, Maine, USA
Zoom screen, cup of coffee, water bottle, cell phone, cat
Zoom meeting, keyboard, can of air, cat
Cat, keyboard, cushion
Coffee, litter box
Coffee

2:45 p.m.
Sitting in my home office
Coffee, cat, dinosaur, cape, sword
Fan, chewing, computer humming, rattling
Lunch, keyboard, phone
Smoke, litterbox
Pineapple

3:10 p.m.
Rochester, NY
Cup, wallet, books, boxes, stars
Car horns, rock music, water dripping, bees buzzing
Alabaster, apples, records
Barbecue, cough medicine
Chocolate

3:43 p.m.
Computer room chair
Daffodils, tulips, bunnies, chicks, dogs
Birds, trains, church bells, rain,
Fur, dirt, skin
Grilling, grass
Mint

3:57 p.m.
My dad’s recliner
Acorn TV, old chairs, a journal, a flat box, an old microwave
Thoughtful dialogue, telemarketing spam, flutes, mom’s remarks
Phone screen, denim jeans, Bic pen
Dad’s recliner, clementines
Pizza

4:36 p.m.
Maine, USA
Citrine, beads, dragon, mug, box
Whirring, creaking, breathing, clunk
Blanket, pillow, mattress
Garlic, yeast
Pumpkin

5:50 p.m.
My Office Chair, Georgia, US
Paper, computer, mug, deck of cards, stapler,
Hum of the computer fan, clicking of the keyboard, my own pulse, notifications
The letters on my keyboard, the linen of my shirt, the plaque on my teeth
Leftover lunch, stale coffee
Fermenting sugar

6:00 p.m.
A Dining Room in Western NY
Chinese Checkers board, Thimk board, Parcheesi board, Chess board, Scrabble board
Neighbor’s ATV, the Thruway, clock ticking, footsteps
Laptop keys, notebook, placemat
Hand soap, coffee
Werthers

8:15 p.m.
My kitchen, Chelsea, Michigan, United States
Houseplants, ceramic piggies, stove, bananas, plates
Pages flipping, refrigerator humming, dog whining, husband talking
Measuring cup, spatula, oven timer
Bacon, peanut butter
Syrup

10:45 p.m.
In bed in Rochester New York
Philip Glass reminds me
The hours that pass by blindly
While it snows in April
I am lost in thought through mines
From borrowed ideas recycled like the cans on these pages

12:30 a.m.
Bedtime in an American suburb
Two black cats, one yellow dog, my 4-year-old daughter, a wall full of art
White noise, crunching, a snoring cat, my own heartbeat
Fur, a warm cheek, a cool window
Vegan cheddar puffs, damp sphagnum moss
Cinnamon

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

THE POETS
(in no particular order) Continue reading “EXQUISITE COLLABORATION POEM: A Day In Our Room”

Exquisite Collaboration Poem: WILLIAM IS A CAT

william the cat
William, a self portrait

WILLIAM IS  CAT

William is a cat.
A companion to his humans, the mayor of his neighborhood, the center of his own universe.

William is a cat who hides his scat.
He’s not sharing and that’s that.

His tiny turds of kitty poo-poo, all speckled with litter,
Dropped into baggies. Hip hip hooray!

William the cat keeps to himself most of the time,
but his heart is big, he cares deeply, and is a true friend.

The son of Prince William
He’s a gentle fellow, soft as a marshmallow.

William is a very intelligent cat
He knows that while the birds are off limits the mice aren’t.

William is happening and all knowing, just as a cat should be.
Any further input would be redundant and superfluous.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

THE POETS
Zeina
Al
Anonymous
Joanne
Daniela Gitlin
Crystal Hayduk
Mickey Cherry

(William’s portrait provided by Zeina Salame)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

THE POEM
Earlier this year,  I took an Impro for Collaborating class with Theresa Robbins Dudeck through the Artists Repertory Theater in Portland, OR.  One of the participants, Diane, talked occasionally about William. Most of us just assumed William was her partner, until one day she talked about William using his litter box. “William is a cat?” someone asked, and we all had a good laugh about it – and then met William, the cat, via Zoom.

What better way to capture the moment of collective, spontaneous delight than with a collaborative poem! The prompt, of course was “William is a cat”. Contributors could include the phrase if they wanted it wasn’t required. And just for fun, I asked a few non-classmates to add a verse.

This is for you, Diane! xo

Exquisite Collaboration Poem: TIME FOR THE CROCUS

Image courtesy of Penny Higgins, PaleoPix

 

TIME FOR THE CROCUS

I broke my ankle
On Saturday before last
And now I just sit

There’s no community
To show me I’m not alone
Where’s the love gone to?

Testing
Testing
Testing

Ones and zeros dash
Across a liquid surface
And pixels conform

Looking like seeing
One you can do with eyes closed
Different result

The air teases warmth
Confusing us with snowflakes
Time for the crocus

Upside down lighthouse
Hermit crabs walking on clouds
Tide pool reflections

Shuffles slowly past
Heavy burden on his hunched back
Tenacious tortoise

Instructions for life:
Explore possibilities,
Surf the waves of change.

*     *     *     *     *     *

THE POETS

Jane S
Justin Rielly
Jackie Dishner
Kay Ross
Catherine Valleroy
Anne Waterman Murphy
Joanne

THE ARTIST

Penny Higgins, PaleoPix photography

*     *     *     *     *     *

THE POEM

Haiku is a form of Japanese poetry comprised of short lines that don’t rhyme but work together to create powerful imagery. For this Exquisite Collaboration, participants were asked to write a haiku following a 5-7-5 syllable structure. The following prompts were offered for inspiration.

– exploration/discovery
– joy/happiness
– fear
– technology
– community

You’ll notice that one of the verses doesn’t follow the haiku format. That’s the test entry I did to make sure the form worked before the prompt went live. I forgot to delete it from the contributions but when I saw it I realized that it still worked as part of the collaboration.

I’m trying these days to embrace mistakes as creative gifts. This was one of those mistakes.

The Dead of Winter (flash fiction)

Image by Elisabeth Lescaudron from Pixabay

The results are in for the finals of the NYC Midnight 250-word Microfiction contest. While I didn’t place, I am absolutely thrilled – thrilled!! – to have been part of this experience. Here’s my round three story, followed by the judges feedback, in it’s entirety, links to my rounds one and two stories, and some thoughts on the contest.

THE DEAD OF WINTER
by Joanne Brokaw

Rachel lay awake listening to scurrying behind the aging farmhouse walls, the sound of nesting mingling with the bitter wind howling across the plains, destroying everything in its path. She sensed tiny life drawing nigh, and it brought her comfort.

“I’ll get the poison from the barn,” William said when he heard the scratching.

“Please don’t. I can’t sleep and it keeps me company.”

“I’ve warned you, wife. The delicate of heart have no place here.”

“Then I’ll catch it and release it into the forest before the first snow.”

“Poison, winter freeze. What do I care. It’ll soon be dead either way.”

Rachel crafted a small wicker basket for a trap, baited it with cheese, and quickly captured a pregnant little mouse. William sneered when he saw the animal cupped gently in his young wife’s small hands, then offered to wring its neck.

“It deserves a chance!” Rachel cried, tucking the mouse into her apron pocket before flying out the door and into the darkness. An icy wind tore at her skin. She ran to the edge of the forest, collapsing to her knees before an inconspicuous cross marking the grave of the sickly infant recently dispatched by her husband. As the mouse escaped her pocket and scampered towards shelter in the nearby underbrush, Rachel felt a heavy hand upon her shoulder.

“There’s no room for weakness on the prairie, wife,” William said, then bashed her skull in with a rock.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

THE JUDGES FEEDBACK Continue reading “The Dead of Winter (flash fiction)”

The Power of Creativity (And Breakfast For Dinner)

 

There’s a moment in season one, episode eight of “WandaVision,” when Agnes (played by Kathyrn Hahn) and Wanda (played by Elizabeth Olsen) are engaged in a fierce battle of magical power. (I’m trying not to give anything away.) After revealing a secret about Wanda’s true identity, Agnes chides her with this line:

“You’re supposed to be a myth, a being capable of spontaneous creation. And here you are making breakfast for dinner.”

I know almost nothing about Marvel comics or these characters (which didn’t stop me from enjoying the show). But the condescension that drips from Agnes’s voice as she throws this line out to Wanda hit me right in my creative gut. Continue reading “The Power of Creativity (And Breakfast For Dinner)”

Exquisite Collaboration Poem: AN ODYSSEY OF PHOENIXES

Image by Mystic Art Design from Pixabay

AN ODYSSEY OF PHOENIXES

I used to be in too much of a hurry to notice the little things, but now I am more intentional and focused and thankful for nearly all of it–even the stuff I wouldn’t choose, for it all contains a lesson.

I used to be together, but now I am scattered, lonely, alone.

I used to be the happy, hopeful mother of two living children, but now I am a grieving, sorrowful mother who has lost one of them.
I used to be hopeful but now I am cynical.
I used to be hopeful but now I am resigned.
I used to be a garbage can collecting all the sin, but now I am a refrigerator that has to stay plugged in.
I used to be good looking but now I am old
I used to be a public frog but now I am nobody
I used to be moldy, but now I am cold-y.
I used to be tan, but now I am not.

I used to be troubled but now I am better.

I used to be an empty rain-catch but now I am a reliable well.
I used to be busy doing, but now I focus on being.
I used to be young and ambitious but now I’m older and wiser.
I used to be the guy saying ‘stick it to the man’, but now I am a safe, careful part of the establishment machine.
I used to be a scientist, but now I am an experiment.
I used to be the one who asked the questions, but now I am the one who knows the Answer.
I used to be unsure, but now I am aware that I don’t have to have all the answers.
I used to be opposed to opposition, but now I am content embracing hugs.
I used to be too old for this shit but now, thank heavens, I am a child again.
I used to be young, wild, and free but now I am old, wild, and free.
I used to be a guitar but now I am a trombone.

I used to be timid, but now I am fearless.

I used to be burning, perhaps not the fire, but the wad of documents, flaked edges aglow, the light hypnotic, paper on the verge of becoming ash, a supply of memory, the inked word shrinking into nonsense as they were consumed; but now I am rising, a spark gleaming in the air, the cascade of heat shimmering above the coals, the searing chronicle of the blaze.

*********************

THE CONTRIBUTORS Continue reading “Exquisite Collaboration Poem: AN ODYSSEY OF PHOENIXES”

A Whispered Agitation (flash fiction)

photo in public domain*

Last fall I entered the NYC Midnight Microflash Fiction contest. In January, I made it through the first round, and last night I learned that I’ve made it through to the next round! Here’s the story that moved me to the finals. At the end is some of the judge’s feedback.

Assigned genre: Historical Fiction
Action that had to be included: bricklaying
Word that had to be included: step
Time to write the 250 word story: 24 hours

A WHISPERED AGITATION
by Joanne Brokaw

Martin filled his trowel with cement, slopped the mortar onto the growing barrier, and topped it with a brick. “You’ll not see that neighbor again, Emily.” More slop. “She’s an agitator.” Another brick.

Emily knew enough to remain silent when her husband was mid-tirade. His word was law, by God, and she best not forget it. But while her lips were quiet, her spirit was not.

Days earlier, that neighbor, Clara, had returned from visiting cousins in Auburn and whispered to Emily rumors of a coming women’s rights movement.

“Can you imagine?” Clara marveled. “To have the vote?”

“That’s preposterous. Surely you’re mistaken. ”

“No, Emily, there’s to be a convention next week. We will be heard.”

For days, dreams of equality girded Emily with confidence. She sewed a new dress; Martin accused her of putting on airs. Her request to see the household ledger was met with icy silence. But it was her utterance of the word “suffrage” that prompted Martin to build the wall.

“You think we don’t know what our wives are up to behind our backs?”

Slop. Brick.

Emily spied Clara on her porch, her black eye and swollen lip visible even at a distance. Clara quickly turned away.

Slop. Brick.

Emily decided. With Martin distracted, she slipped away, donning her bonnet as she walked determinedly to the train station. She stepped up to the ticket counter and pushed a few pilfered coins towards the agent. “One fare to Seneca Falls, please.”

**************************

The judges had some nice thing to say about the piece and gave specific, really helpful suggestions. Here’s what they had to say: Continue reading “A Whispered Agitation (flash fiction)”

Recharge Your Creativity: January 2021

It’s a new year so let’s kick it off with the return of Recharge Your Creativity nights!
Join me on Monday, January 18, 2021, from 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm ET/US, for an evening of writing prompts and playful exercises designed to spark ideas and recharge your creative spirit.
This is a low key, high support workshop. No writing or artistic experience is necessary, and sharing is optional.
This is a free/pay what you want monthly drop in event. Prompts and themes change monthly.
For more information or to register, visit
or

The Story of You: a new creative project for 2021

photo courtesy of jplenio via pixabay

As we enter into this new year, I have a confession about 2020: once I got over the initial “lockdown put the brakes on everything” depression, I thrived creatively in isolation.

The “aha” moment came when the bird landed on my head and ushered in a mindset of magical possibility. After that, it was far easier for me to do big things even though I was confined in a small box. Maybe because I controlled the box and the box could take me around the world with just the click of a mouse, a sort of pandemic TARDIS. Having the freedom to just do something without needing to find a host or get permission allowed me to…well, just do shit. Whatever shit I wanted to do.

Workshops! Collaborative poem projects! Virtual create space for other writers!

Notice anything? I didn’t do this alone. You were there the whole time.

And with that, I am going out on a limb to say out loud that I’m starting my next book, tentatively titled “The Story of You: A Creative Journey.”

Once upon a time you did not exist.
Then one day something happened, and viola!
There you were.
Then some more things happened, and are happening, and will happen soon,
Until one day, in the blink of an eye, you will be no more.
That is the story of you, in a nutshell.
But when you crack that nutshell, out spills an avalanche of those things that happened, and are happening, and will happen soon.
Those things are the heart of your story.
They explain who you are.
They define why you are here.
They show where you came from.
They guide where you are going.
They create what you will leave behind.
Inside the nutshell is the story of your journey.
And that is the real story of you.

I’m telling you this because throughout 2021, you can help me work through ideas by responding to prompts and answering questions and playing games and participating in reflective exercises. If you want to stay updated, make sure you’re on my mailing list. You can find the sign up on the home page of my website. http://joannebrokaw.com/index.html

While I can take this journey alone, it’s more fun with friends. And let’s be honest: while I am confidently at the starting point, I have no itinerary or road map. If I don’t take someone along for the ride, I may just sit in the parking lot with the engine idling.

So we’re going on a fun, introspective journey together, my lovelies, starting soon. No seat belts required.

Here’s to a new year that overflows with beautiful things.
Happy creating!
Joanne

%d bloggers like this: