I lead a very quiet life, so having the chance to meet an author I absolutely love, has been a huge highlight of my year. I have rambled on a fair amount about Susan Wooldridge, author of Poemcrazy and Foolsgold often enough that I worry I’m going to wear you readers out. However, when one falls in love with a book or set of books, or in this case, the author, one tends to go on about it quite a lot.
Just recently my local library hosted a free workshop with Susan Wooldridge and I was fortunate enough to be able to attend. It was all and more than I could have ever imagined, leaving me with some stunning poetry, if I do say so myself, and a host of inspiration. I was able to meet other authors that gather every Saturday, at my library none the less, and it was a wonderful experience.
Susan is even more fun in person than I would have ever thought. I mean, I love her books and her style of writing is wonderful, but she’s actually like that in person! I could gush…. Okay, I kind of am gushing. I may continue through this with much more.
The ‘Wild Women of Etna”
We started off our session ‘stealing words’ from the stacks of poetry books Susan brought with her. (on a side note, I want to have half of those books. I didn’t have time to write down all the amazing titles!) Flipping through the books we grabbed words we liked or called to us from these books, writing them down on a sheet of paper. I grabbed so many words I wanted to keep going and going! I had a huge list. Here is a sample.
headlights, eternity’s, the expression, No problem, every moaning lover, chain-smoking, neon light-script, leafless trees, cactus, disembodied, dainty, waterful full of leaves, detective, compact berries, gasoline, ocean, Bloodroot, Swamp Dewberry, Victorian, Paint November…..
Then we started throwing words up onto the whiteboard until we had this AMAZING wordpool.
Susan standing with our word pool.
One of our more hilarious moments was talking about the ‘detective (my word) who charged 3.95 a second’. We kept repeating the phrase over and over trying to fling it into our writing.
Susan then had us all loosen up with dancing in the library parking lot. Our library delivery guy saw us all acting like ninnies, and declined to join in. (I don’t blame him. I mean, the Wild Women were at it…. ) We spun around and said our vowels in a song of movement.
We pulled out Susan’s word tickets; words cut from various sources and taped to ‘Admit One’ tickets. If you have read Poemcrazy, you will know what these are. Sadly, I did not get a picture of them. I need to make my own, but have not gotten around to it yet.
Our poetry starters, now on my ceiling for further inspiration.
Then we started writing using starter phrases of I remember, I come from, I am not, I am, and so forth. We used our word pools we had stolen and the words thrown up on the white board. We scribbled away, me with my red fountain pen, writing furiously.
Then came the heart wrenching moment when Susan asked if she could read our poems aloud. I have to say, while I handed out mine first because I was done, I was quivering inside. Do you know how personal a poem is? If you are a poet, then yes, but for those that do not write it , it can be a nerve wracking experience to have someone read a very rough draft of what you just wrote.
As Erin Andrews said recently on an episode of Dancing with the Stars, ‘this show is sponsored by Kleenix’….
We cried and we laughed, oohed, aahed and were blown away by the stories we told in just moments. One writer, Robbie, made me want to cry with how beautiful her poetry was. She described this place that I wanted to step into that reminded me of the Melendy Family in Elizabeth Enright‘s “The Four Story Mistake.” And Vicki’s poem was so beautiful…. I will include hers within this post as she was gracious enough to allow me to post her poetry to share.
A small break, goodies from the Friends of the Library, then back to work this time with switched out word tickets and postcards we selected that called to us. I chose three, that I don’t have a picture of. A Georgia O’Keefe red poppy, an impressionist painting of rain on a cobblestone street in some French city, and a stone sphere on a green lawn in an abstract painting. Word tickets and postcards transformed us into a sobbing mess. I was writing, so quietly, filled with this burning ache in my chest. I ended crying as Susan read my poem. It was like I had been slammed by pure emotion. It was amazing, but wow.
She read all of our poetry and it was stunning. One phrase from one of the poems I loved was “I’m having a silent affair with my land’. Isn’t that amazing?
“What’s that word?” with Donna May
Reading about the “Snow Angel”
We ended the three hour workshop with requests for Susan to come back and moments of awe. I met some amazing ladies and have been invited to meet for the Saturday writing circle!
Susan handed us our Poetry license and we are all official. She even graciously signed our books. (I now have two books signed by an author. I don’t think I could be more jazzed)
I’m seriously inspired and I have started collecting a sample of obscure poetry books to steal words. I mean, I already have done that, but nothing like what I did at this workshop.
Susan signing her book Poemcrazy
I will post a separate post of my poetry and Vicki’s poetry. If I can ever get any of the other ladies to share, I will try and post them in another post.
This was one of the best days ever. I know, I sound gushing…. If you ever get the opportunity to go to a workshop with Susan, I highly recommend it. It was incredible.
Susan and me. I wanted to go with her…. She said I can visit any time. I will have to take her up on it.