Open a dictionary. Pick a word. Now close it.
Open it again. Pick another word. Close it.
Now, write a poem using those two words.
This is a fun little game taught to me by my favorite local poet, Justin Karcher. Back in January, I discovered he would be doing a workshop at the Just Buffalo Literary Center, and my mother was kind enough to purchase me a ticket. It was in May, so it was a long wait. There were only 9 or 10 of us, but it was great…to me at least, who had never been to a writing workshop of any kind.
One of the first questions he posed was what poetry meant to us. It’s a simple concept, I suppose, but if you don’t have a grasp of what your craft means to you, then what are you even doing? I responded to this question with a poem of my own, naturally:
Poetry By Brigid Hannon Poetry is my voice, louder in word than in action. My pen on paper. or my mouth and teeth and tongue, no different from each other. Each meter should lift darkness into light. Each verse should move a heart to break, each stanza another gasp from muted lips- poetry is power and opinion and might- the never ceasing beat of our living hearts. Now, a lot of Justin’s stuff has to do with our shared home of Buffalo, NY, which may be why I love it so much. I have long held a hope to write a collection of just Buffalo poems, so when he said we would be writing poems about “home” in some fashion, I was delighted. I started free writing some thoughts down, and eventually I took those bones and pieced them together into a skeleton of a poem, which I took home with me to work on further. I knew it wasn’t the sort I could pound out in an hour-long class. I did, however, write this little guy as well, which I have no intention of doing anything with, so I might as well share it with you here:
Safe Shoes Also by Brigid Hannon No flip-flops today; no sandals. Sneakers? But no... laces come untied. Little ones, so scared, and yet prepared, and I cannot choose a shoe. An adult counterpart, I've no active training. "Where's the exit," I ask myself, looking to the black sturdy Sketchers I picked out, with rubber soles and no laces- shoes that keep me safe, like I keep little souls who find me, willing to sacrifice for such. She tells me she likes her school; she feels safe: "We hardly ever have a lockdown." Hardly. Look to the ground to keep from crying, seeing only sturdy safe shoes- shoes that make me RUN. Anyway, the workshop was lovely. I went home and worked on my main poem for a bit, and when it was done, I emailed it to Justin to show him. A few days later, he got back to me and asked if he could publish it in the June edition of Ghost City Press, which is the mag where I published my first poem, so, I mean…yeah, dude. Of course. So, in honor of that, I made a TikTok for it, which I will share at the end of this post. It is a poem about my city, but also about my grandparents. We were supposed to write about what home means to us, and my city is my home, where I would not live were it not for my grandparents, who gave me this wonderful home without even realizing it. Finally, I tried to write a poem using the dictionary game, and I tell you, friend-I have failed. I have been drowning in the words “solicitous histrionics” for weeks now, because those are the two words that noodled their way out of the book and into my brain. Eventually, I will write that poem-it will probably be a weird one. So, that’s all for today, I think. Happy Monday!