I attended the 8th annual Writer’s Weekend at MT. SAC in April 2016. Here are a few things I learned about poetry from some amazing presenters:
- Myrena Ogbu was big on experimenting with poetry and improvisational poetry.
One exercise was to have music playing in the background; what is the music saying to you? what voice do the instruments have? what are the instruments saying?
She wanted us to free ourselves and write whatever came to mind, which is a lot like free writing.
- Chad Sweeney was big on surrealism and our dreams. He showed us a lot of art made by famous painters like Salvador Dalí and different ways to present our poetry on stage.
He wanted us to manipulate words to mean different things. We could form a list of words and make a poem using the words. The list had to include hard words, too to make it interesting. He provided two separate lists and had us write a poem using one of them. There were over fifty words. Like a found poem, we were to let the words dictate the direction of our poem, letting the stream of consciousness just write without stopping to think about the different meanings or how the words were joined together. Then, he had us present our work in unison using various voice levels. Quite a show.
- Stephanie Barbé Hammer is great for impromptu exercises to warm up the brain for writing poetry. Her energy coupled with her knowledge added another wonderful experience.
The variety of warm-up exercises that would help get the ideas flowing in your head included choosing seven words from several lists of presidential quotes. Second, she had you write your favorite word on a separate piece of paper and exchange with another individual. Third, we made a list of five political issues that we’re interested about. Fifth, we did a free-write of what you had for breakfast. Last, we wrote a poem as a political speech about the issues we wanted, using as many words we found.
The neat thing about this, is if you got stuck, you could go back and use any of the other words or phrases written throughout the warm-ups to help get you back on track. Kind of a backward way of writing poetry.