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”

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)”

The Pleas of the Leaves (or how writing fiction is just improv on the page)

Image by Susanne Jutzeler, suju-foto from Pixabay

Last November, in an attempt to push myself to try new creative things, I entered the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction contest.

This is a fiction contest where, at the designated start time, participants are sent their assignment, which includes the genre they are supposed to write in, an action that has to take place, and a word they must include in the story, and they all write a story. The top writers in their groups move on for two more rounds, until a winner is crowned.

Oh, and did I mention participants have 24 hours to write their story?

Here’s the thing. I don’t write fiction. OK, well, I do, sort of. As part of my “write like a mad scientist for the first draft” practice, I often will ask friends for three random words, set a timer, and then use those words as prompts to write anything that comes to mind during the designated free writing time.

Often, it’s some weird story that comes from out of nowhere, something that if I was trying to write it would never appear. I just “Yes And” whatever comes out (improv has improved my writing as well as my life), and I rarely edit those mad scientist drafts. They go into a file I pull the out once in a while and think, “This would make a great story,” panic at the thought of having to actually write the story, and promptly put it all back in a drawer. I do, however, share them with my besties and creative cheerleaders Roberta Gore and Carrie Anne Noble, two accomplished fiction writers.

“You do write fiction, Joanne,” they keep telling me, but I still disagree.  To me, a fiction writer plots story lines and crafts characters and pays attention to themes and irony and other literary devices. I just splash something on the page and leave it to fend for itself.

My non-fiction career? Not a problem. I can pen a fabulous feature story, spin a delightful humor column, muse poetically in an essay. I have a few awards to prove I’m pretty good at that.

But making stuff up and creating worlds? Not really my thing. (Except on the improv stage. Are you noticing a theme here?)

So anyway, back to the contest.

The contest entry fee was $25, and every participant receives feedback on their piece, whether they move on to the next round or not. That sounded like a good deal to me.

Here’s the wrinkle: I thought I had entered the Flash Fiction contest, where entries had to be 500 words or less. When I saw the assignment I realized I actually entered was the Micro Flash Fiction contest, where entries were limited to 250 words.

Oh boy. Continue reading “The Pleas of the Leaves (or how writing fiction is just improv on the page)”

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

Exquisite Collaboration Poem: Our Hope For The New Year

Earth sunrise greets astronauts aboard the International Space Station; taken Apr. 8, 2015. Courtesy NASA free images.

a note on the final poem of 2020:

For this final exquisite collaboration project of 2020, almost 40 people from around the world contributed one sentence expressing a hope for the new year. These sentences were then sorted to create the following poem that, despite everyone contributing independently of each other, echoed common themes of peace, health, and the desperate desire to hug again.

I want to thank everyone who participated in these poems this year. Facilitating these gave me a creative purpose during the pandemic lockdown and put into action what has been my writing motto for more than 20 years:

Connect. Inspire. Change the world.

May your 2021 overflow with all things beautiful, and may we have many more opportunities to create magic together.
xo
Joanne

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

our collective hope for the new year Continue reading “Exquisite Collaboration Poem: Our Hope For The New Year”

Exquisite Collaboration Poem: THE POWER OF PEACE

THE POWER OF PEACE

If we all treated each other and the planet with kindness and respect,
Then there would be no need for war,
And the world would be at peace.

If you recall, a hooded stranger ran up to me in the street.
Then I greeted them warmly, and asked them to join me at the community faire.
And the world sang joyously at our arrival.

If the skies burn and the storms rage and the winds rush and the seas churn
Then no human life will have the privilege of comfort and safety
And the world will laugh and dance to celebrate the new life to take our place.

If I could climb to the top of the apple tree
Then I could breathe in fall like the starlings and the last of the butterflies
And the world would hurt a little less.

If they told me to go home and make crafts with my daughters
Then I’ll craft my ambition to show them what’s possible
And the world, doubters and believers alike, will watch me rise.

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

THE POETS

Kay Ross
Coriander Rainbeaux
Maur J DeLaney
Carrie the Bat
H.H. Wood

The poets hailed from Hong Kong; Rochester, NY; and Pennsylvania.

THE ARTIST

The video presentation of the poem was created by Crystal Hayduk, who also provided the poem’s title. She hails from Michigan.

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

THE POEM

For this poem, each participant wrote three lines that together form one stanza or thought.
Line 1 began with the word “If”
Line 2 began with the word “Then”
Line 3 began with the phrase “And the world”

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 one bit at a time, with no one seeing what the previous participants contributed. The goal is to encourage non-writers and artists to embrace their creative selves in a safe, supportive, “you can’t fail” environment.

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.

Five Minutes From The Funny Farm: Free Writing Like A Mad Scientist

This morning I hosted a Zoom Creative Space with some friends – a dedicated time to write, paint, sew, create, whatever anyone wanted to do, but in the virtual company of other people also creating.

I haven’t been writing myself lately; for most of the last two years I’ve been focused on helping other people capture their own creative energy. I needed this time  just as much as I wanted to facilitate the time for other people. But since I’m not actually working on anything at the moment, to get started I asked my Facebook friends to give me three words to use as free writing prompts. The first three words offered – from Chris Stoker, Yvonne Ransel, and Larry Ploscowe – were:

Breathe
I
Whoa

Here’s what I mean by “free writing”. I’m taking those word suggestions and, with as little editing or thinking as possible, writing for an allotted time (in this case about 45 minutes with a few breaks), and then letting it settle to see what might come out. The goal is simply to write – what I write is irrelevant.

I call this the Mad Scientist draft – anything is possible and everything is allowed. I love being a creative mad scientist.

Full disclosure: I’ve gone back and done a wee bit of tweaking before I posted this – mostly taking very long run on sentences and turning them into slightly less long run on sentences, and fixing some typos (I’m sure I missed a ton). But keep in mind this is still a very rough draft of…something. I’m being creatively vulnerable here because I want to encourage you to create without fear, to turn off that internal editor and let words flow however they want. Worry what it means later.

I had fun with this. I hope you have fun reading (or watching the video). And for the dozens of people still posting word suggestions, I have an idea to use all of them so stay tuned.

OK. Ready? Begin writing.

* * * * Continue reading “Five Minutes From The Funny Farm: Free Writing Like A Mad Scientist”

Exquisite Collaboration Poem: STARDUST DREAMS

Photo courtesy Pixabay

I am an imperfect beast
I am here to solve more problems than I create
I came from bigger places
I am going somewhere worse, hand basket free.

I believe hand baskets are for sale, but I can’t afford them.

I am dandelion fluff and dewdrops
I am here to enchant and to vex the minds of small mice
I came from the edge of the meadow where the pine trees nod
I am going to the midsummer fair to buy milkweed and maple sap

I believe in stardust and salamanders.

I am a masterpiece in progress,
Working on my canvas every day.
I came from the earth, the stream, the stars, the wind.
I am all those things now, and will return to their pure forms once again.

I believe we are all connected to each other and our universe.

I am me, soft, old, pliable, feminine me.
I am here to pave the way for the next generation of dreamers to become believers.
I came from the stars and to the stars I will return.
I am going everywhere and nowhere.

I believe we are on the edge of a great discovery that will change the world for the better.

I am different things to different people but to myself I am just me.
I’m here because my parents created me.
I came here from another state.
I don’t know where I’m going as long as I’m going and hopefully it’ll be fun.

I believe that someone, somewhere will eventually answer any and all questions we really need the answers to.

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

THE POETS

Lori B. Duff
Carrie the Bat
Mindy Wells Hoffbauer
Jan Heverly. Writer.
Mickey Cherry

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

THE POEM

For this poem, each participant wrote five sentences, one each in response to these questions:

Who am I?
Why am I here?
Where did I come from?
Where am I going?
I believe…

Everyone participating responded to the same prompts without knowing how the others responded and how (or if!) the verses would work together as a whole poem. The goal was for participants to turn off their internal editor and reflect for a moment on their own moment in existence. The end result, posted with almost no editing offers a glimpse into our interconnectedness.

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

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 one bit at a time, with no one seeing what the previous participants contributed. The goal is to encourage non-writers and artists to embrace their creative selves in a safe, supportive, “you can’t fail” environment.

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.

Exquisite Collaboration Poem: Into the Forest

“Gretchen and The Bear” by Carrie Anne Noble is available now from WordCrafts Press.

As part of the online book launch party yesterday for “Gretchen and The Bear”, by my friend, the delightfully talented Carrie Anne Noble, I invited readers to contribute to a collaborative poem.

Ten people participating, providing five random sentences in response to five prompts. I then arranged the sentences according to a pre-set pattern to create the poem you’re about to read. Note that no one saw what anyone else was writing, and that no verse contains more then one sentence from the same person. You can read more about the prompts and how they were arranged at the end of the poem.  Here’s what they created:

Continue reading “Exquisite Collaboration Poem: Into the Forest”

Exquisite Quarantine Poem: THE JOURNEY

Photo by Jesse Sprinkle

THE JOURNEY

I am a genderless perfectly flawed human being.
I am a healer, using sound and the written word to transform the impossible.
I arrived from a time full of fear, anxiety, depression, and suffering.
I am walking into the unknown, with faith, strength and hope.

Alas, I am a wizard.
I have come forth to warn you of magic not yet known.
Stillness has come across the land, but I have not come from a place of stillness.
It is here creativity emerges! With the swirl of time and space together as one!

I am a mother, a ghost-writer and a pianist,
reaching out to relieve my boredom.
Stuck in a city without peace and justice,
longing for a place with true freedom.

I am just another wounded soul, wandering, stumbling, hiking, running, skipping (sometimes, rarely), creeping, crawling, spinning, swirling, swaying, moving, journeying through time.
I am here to live, and then die, which is a good thing in the right season.
I came from a long line of people, starting with Verity Tree-dweller from Central Africa
and going to death

I love to love and I love to laugh.
I am here to abracadabra Magic Makers.
I came from some blip in the twinkling stars some galaxy somewhere.
I will go when my earth job is done to lands who knows.

I am the unicorn, an angel, or a mermaid-
I have come to carry you through a time of dismay.
It was human imagination and folklore that created me to
Stand by your side until you can stand alone.

Now I am an orphan —
Looking for family without the blood connection.
What began so conventional, nuclear,
Moves toward something wholly of my own invention.

I am a mighty river, slowly altering my course.
I am the result of a million tiny decisions.
I come from a sacred place, where thoughts and dreams arise.
I am sailing a course, charted by my wisdom.

* * * * * *

THE POETS
Coriander Rainbeaux can be found IntheSpiceRack.com
Fred Dean says “Writing gets me to the places I’d rather go when I do not know how else to get there.”
Judy Lam is a Hong Kong-born pianist. https://judylam.wordpress.com/
Laura V.N.
Sheryl Hooi, a curious smithy of all sorts.
Kathy Ann Morris Self-proclaimed poet since age 8
Leslie Joan Millenson
Laura Fleming

THE ARTWORK
Jesse Sprinkle – Artist of sight and sound. https://www.patreon.com/jessesprinkle

* * * * * *

THE POEM
Participants were asked to write four lines, with a prompt for each line:
Line 1 – Who am I?
Line 2 – Why am I here?
Line 3 – Where did I come from?
Line 4 – Where am I going?
None of the contributors saw what the others wrote; all four of each contributor’s lines stayed together as one stanza.

Note: this is the last in this poem in this phase of our Exquisite Quarantine Poem project.  I can’t thank the participants enough for their time and effort!

But that doesn’t mean the collaboration is over! As we begin to venture out of The Pause and into our “new normal” lives, I’m simply rebranding these projects as the Exquisite Collaboration Project. The goal is the same: to bring together strangers who will contribute individual parts to make a collective, creative whole.

You can read all of the Exquisite Quarantine Poems here.  And make sure you’re following me on Facebook or on my mailing list to stay updated on the next phase of the Exquisite Collaboration Project!

* * * * * *

Exquisite Quarantine Poem: UNMASKED

“The Three Faces” by Daniela Gitlin

UNMASKED

Why do I have to notice everything?
Because acting aimlessly misses the target
If you take off your mask.
Then yellow became my signature color.
I wish I were an Oscar Meyer wiener.

Why do we close our eyes when we kiss?
Because when you don’t raise kids, you can’t mess up their lives.
If one doesn’t nurture their own personal narrative
Then Humpty Dumpty wouldn’t fall.
I wish I had tried harder.

Why do you always have to say that?
Because she put all her eggs in heaven’s basket, she stopped living in the now.
If they didn’t acknowledge me on Mother’s Day, I wouldn’t notice.
Then I would have taken more solid, pure, possibly different actions.
I wish I was a creative genius.

Why do masks make us feel both safer and more alone?
Because there’s always time to get a DeLorean.
If my dog could talk, I’d know the secret to contentment.
Then I would not be a mother.
I wish I was more aware of my personal narrative earlier in life.

Why else would it matter?
Because of that night, we never made it to Saratoga, or the concert.
If this works, we’re going to be rich.
Then maybe all of this would make better sense.
I wish I never gave birth.

Why would anyone else?
Because the collective is the whole.
If Sheila had given ten percent more effort, she would have earned that scholarship.
Then, you won’t believe it, I just got up and walked away.
I wish I had asked my mother how she felt when my brother died.

* * * * * *

THE POETS
Teri Foltz is a playwright (Teri’s Play Date on YouTube) and a poet (Green and Dying on Amazon)
Sara Moore www.hypnohelpcounselingservices.com
Sam Cardamone is a native of Buffalo, NY now living in Rochester and, as of late, desperately trying his hand at improv.
Jason Rugg Instagram: @deviations_in_the_dust
Jenean Roth is lover of words read, written, spoken, dreamt, and arranged in entertaining ways.
Stephanie Lewis is wondering should we be on lockdown or locked up? Onceuponyourprime.com

THE ARTWORK
“The Three Faces” by Daniela Gitlin
Daniela Gitlin’s first book (note the optimism) is available on Amazon: Practice, Practice, Practice: This Psychiatrist’s Life. It’s amazing how much trouble she gets into and still manages to be helpful. danielagitlin.com

THE POEM
This poem was an experiment in a word collage, similar to RESTRUCTURED. Without knowing anything about what the final product would look like – or seeing a prompt or the line before theirs, as with the other poems – six contributors were each asked to provide five unrelated sentences: Continue reading “Exquisite Quarantine Poem: UNMASKED”

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