Yesterday we had our first session of the Poetry and Prose Rounds/Fall quarter series. Small but dynamic group that met in the UW Health Sciences Library (before the official start of school). Suzanne Edison and I co-facilitated this session. Remember you can drop in on any session, Tuesdays noon-1pm UW Health Sciences Library Lower Level meeting room. We’ll offer this each week through December 9th.
The two readings for this session were: 1) ‘Girl’ by Jamaica Kincaid and 2) ‘Health’ by Rafael Campo–from his chapbook Alternative Medicine (Durham: Duke U Press), 2014, p 58. Here’s a link to a Youtube video of Dr. Campo reading ‘Health’ although it cuts off the last lines of the poems. And here’s a link to the full text and some discussion of the poem.
Suzanne started us off with a relaxation, body awareness, and writing exercise. We were asked to close our eyes and notice our breathing–“I notice my breath is____”. Then noticing any images that might emerge for us and then noticing where our weight is distributed. Then, after opening our eyes to free-write about what came up for us during that exercise.
First ‘official’ writing exercise was one of my all-time favorites: “Write the story of your name.” See my previous/related blog post on it “A Patient Named Noname.”
We shared some of what we’d written, and this also served as introductions.
Then we did a close read of Kincaid’s poem (I believe that’s how she would label it) ‘Girl.’ It is quite a rich and complex prose poem/dialogue that brings up issues of identity, culture, and ‘lessons’ we are all taught about these things.
The second writing prompt (related to ‘Girl’) was: “Think of a lesson or admonition you had growing up (from a parent, teacher, etc). Respond to it in any form you want.”
After sharing/discussing what came out of that writing prompt, we turned to a close read of Campo’s poem ‘Health.’ It has some humor and some surprising twists/lines at the end of the poem that we tried to tease out.
The ‘take home’ final writing prompt was to take a line or phrase or word from that poem and write a poem or short prose piece incorporating it.