Ever since I was young, I have always enjoyed words and the worlds they create in my head. Bending and twisting and melding words to create new meanings that I can escape into. They are a treasure of emotions waiting to be discovered.
Despite this, it was only until 2010 that I really started writing poetry more consistently. As I lost my ability to dance and even walk, I sought refuge in the strength I had left. I let my voice be heard through the words on a page. The words turned into sentences, the sentences into ideas, feelings and emotions. The ideas, feelings and emotions into poems.
At first, the words came roaring through, unleashed and leaping out with such force that my pen could not weave its way through the whites of pages fast enough. I was surprised at their intensity. Yet, in the past year, I have struggled to write a single poem.
To get out of this space, I went to a poetry workshop for newbies hosted by Slamalama founder Michelle Dabrowski. If you’ve never been to a Slamalamadingdong event, I suggest you give it a shot. The next one up is this Thursday (June 19 @7:30pm). It is a warm and safe community to explore your inner poet.
One of the exercises that we did was writing free flow; start with an idea about why we were there, in that space, and let it go, without self edits or reappraisals. So I thought I’d share with you what I wrote, in all its unedited glory:
Words protect and attack me. I find comfort and fear in their meaning. I guard myself behind them, ducking away from their swords, shielding myself from their possibilities, yet arming myself with their strength when the rights of others are called into question.
This space I am in is my defiance to the words that have hindered me and put me down for so many years that they are as familiar to me as the grooves along an old wooden desk.
I am trying to create the space to broaden my vocabulary.
To replace ‘should have’ and ‘could have’ with ‘have’.
To replace ‘you are stupid’ with ‘you are learning’.
To use the same words that I tell others with equal meaning to myself.
To embrace the words ‘failure’ and ‘vulnerability’.
To let go of my predetermined value judgments of words, people and places.
In this space, I am vulnerable yet open.
In another exercise, we had to complete the following sentences:
My name is…
also known as…
I come from…
Yesterday I was…
I dream of…
Today I am…
Tomorrow I will be…
In the silence I sometimes hear..
My name is Phara. Also known as guardian, friend of my path, crusader of my truth, a tree in a row planted by my grandfather for each of his grandchildren.
I come from the singsongs of war and the kisses of first hope, weary footsteps on deep ringing mountains whose valleys have seen too many battles; whose buildings cradle more cracks than cement. From the land where the olive trees grow bullets and children play in the shadows of peace.
Yesterday I was rooted in words that could have been.
I dream of words that do, make, create and fear not fear itself but fear of not fearing fear.
Today I am ready.
Tomorrow I will be what comes and what I allow to happen.
In the silence, I sometimes hear the loud thudding of my doubts and anxieties.
There were other exercises we did, but these two resonated with me the most. Looking back, both pieces I wrote were about quietening my history and making my future louder.
I can’t believe how much these simple exercises have stimulated my mind. Already, I feel that my words are just waiting in line for their turn at the local poet ‘goldsmith’.
I hope you find them as useful as I have :).