Here’s another post on my experience in the MT. SAC Writer’s Weekend, April 28, 2017. This time, the Poetry Workshop was led by wonderful Nikia Chaney. She works at the Inlandia Institute in Southern California and her website is www.nikiachaney.com
Chaney’s workshop included some information about poetry and a few prompts, to which she provided guidance and feedback on the work presented. She spoke of the importance of indirect meaning, sound, and imagery in poetry.
Indirect meaning is where poetry says a lot with minimal space and where poetry has metaphor, simile, and/or allusion.
Sound involves repetition (of a word, phrase, or beat), alliteration, assonance, and
rhythm (soft). The repetition should not ‘hit us over the head,’ but repeat enough times that the reader expects it.
Imagery involves sensory language.
Chaney also mentioned that there is no wrong way to start a prompt and to always try new things with poetry. “If you think you’re doing something wrong with it, it must be right. That’s your creativity. Enjoy the writing and have fun with it.”
For the first prompt, Chaney had us listen to Lucille Clifton’s “Cutting Greens,” which you can read AND listen to at https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poems/detail/54590
Then, she asked us to write about something mundane that connects with life; a boring task like brushing teeth. Write what you do and replace some words with images and ideas similar to what Clifton did. Add details without censoring yourself.
The second prompt, she had us listen to Yusef Komunyakaa’s “Anodyne,” which you can read AND listen to at https://www.ibiblio.org/ipa/poems/komunyakaa/anodyne.php
Then, she asked us to write one line you can repeat but break up in different ways four times within your poem. To do this, you need to change the line a little, but still let us recognize it for the rhythm (like music). For example, “I want everything” can be added throughout your poem in different ways such as “You can give me” or “I want everything” and “everything you can” or “give me” and “I want you” and each one is on a different stanza.
Try writing some poems and see what you come up with... very interesting stuff =)