I’m fresh home from an afternoon devoted to poetry! Facilitated by spoken word artist, Andrea Thompson, the workshop combined a writing exercise, performance, and discussion. Ms. Thompson had a warm, engaging presence that put me at ease, and I appreciated her genuine passion for poetry.
To give us the flavor of her work, Andrea performed three of her pieces, transforming our group of twelve into a fascinated audience. I especially loved the way she sang some of the words when she felt called to sing. She brought a melodic and dramatic quality to her poems that made a big impact on me.
After we introduced ourselves, Andrea invited us to write a four-line poem based on a simple exercise. Each line was to start with the line “I am from” and then fill in the lyrical blanks with the name of a food (line one), a family or cultural tradition (line two), a snapshot of a location (line three), and something about the climate (line four).
I enjoyed listening to the poems that my fellow participants created, and many of their words have stayed with me: sandalwood, honey, dinner at five a.m., stars, land of Buddha, sound of flowers, and the promised land. To our amazement, the writer of a beautiful poem about grief said, “This is the first poem I have ever written.”
When my turn came, I noticed some constriction in my breathing, but I was able to read the following lines to the group:
I am from pecan pie, treacle sweet, tasting of Midwestern corn syrup and warm Southern trees.
I am from total immersion baptism by the old pastor in his Brooks Brothers suit.
I am from Liberty, Missouri, the buckled up Bible belt, green and friendly, with undercurrents of despair.
I am from tornadoes, sirens that shoo us to the cellar, staring at the cold rust on the freezer.
I am from there.