Meeting Susan G. Wooldridge

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"

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.

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.

IMG_5659

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

“What’s that word?” with Donna May

Reading about the "Snow Angel"

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

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.

Kate

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.

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.

 

 

Related Posts

A Concrete Herringbone – Poetry

herring                bone                   in                   the sky          a storm’s               coming

a storm               of long               ing                   for a              change              that won’t

come soon          enough             to suit                 me as           impatience            colors my

thoughts           and dreams         feel like               fantasy          and hope is            further away

than I                  thought             it could               be, but              I don’t want             to give up

so do I let the storm cover me over or do I break free and let the rain come down?

they say that salt water fixes everything; tears, sweat and the ocean…but rain is sweet

 

Okay, this isn’t specifically ‘animal’ other than herringbone, which is what the clouds looked like as I stepped outside tonight. I’m not good with concrete poetry since I have never played around with it much, butStephen Fry in his “The Ode Less Traveled”, talks about it in some very unique forms. It is also mentioned in Poemcrazy by Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge. I love it and sometimes it is stunning. I have seen several pieces of this poetry come out of today’s challenge. I am suitably impressed. (I’ve linked a few at the bottom of the post) And you can see what the sky looked like below in the picture I took, which gave instant inspiration to this challengeherringbone

I love enjambment as it is so amazing to have that heart wrenching break. I really feel a twist in my gut  when I am jolted from a smooth, flowing line that stops! And I have to continue on the next line. It thrusts   me forward and I feel affected by poetry that uses this. I think Billy Collins is good at using it, and e.e. cummings was known for using it as well. (side note, I don’t like much e.e. cummings but a few)

Kate

 

Below are some of my favorites

  • Fly   (prodgic.wordpress.com)
  • No longer human     (janebasilblog.wordpress.com)

  • A Kiss     (cnalfonso.wordpress.com)

 

My Landing Spot

Hiding in the non-fiction. My favorite spot in all the library.

Hiding in the non-fiction. My favorite spot in all the library.

I’m sitting in the very last row of the non-fiction section of my library, which isn’t saying much since the non-fiction section is only two full shelves. Okay, it’s three, but the over-sized books are over somewhere else.  I’m reading my new copy of Foolsgold by Susan G. Wooldridge, which is silly because over in the 130’s of the non-fiction is the library copy.  I could have just picked up that copy since I have borrowed it numerous times, but I am so in love with my own copy, I had to bring it.

Cover of "Foolsgold: Making Something fro...

Cover via Amazon

Chapter 32 of Foolsgold, titled ‘foolsgold and ethel’s landing’, talks about finding a spot you find peaceful and removed.  Just a corner or nook (I love the word nook) that you can pause and be in your own realm.  Fill it with a cushion or chair and settle in.  Pause.  Maybe do nothing at all.

For me, this last row in the library is that spot.  I can usually sprawl out here and not be bothered, though just as I wrote that, Bev, a friend, has ‘intruded’ into this space to look for a book in the 900’s for the library.  Or maybe herself.

Poetry to the right

Poetry to the right

I like this spot because it doesn’t get much traffic.  To the right of me are all the poetry books and to the left are literature and travel.  Shakespeare and books on New York.  Plato and The Places in Between by Rory Stewart.  Hold on, I have to see what that book is about.  Ooh, sounds interesting; about a man walking across Afghanistan in 2002.  Maybe a winter reading book.  The title fits with the Foolsgold chapter, for in there, Ethel’s Landing is the stairs landing Susan’s mother has her spot.  And landings are neither up nor down, but between.

I love my spot and I would love to add a cushion, a couple of candles and a pot of tea.  Just

Plato, Shakespeare, and The Places in Between. See the arrow?

Plato, Shakespeare, and The Places in Between. See the arrow?

set up and stay.  I like hearing all the sounds from the library around me.  People tapping on the computers out at the front, the murmur of conversations.  It’s homey.  I should look into bringing a cushion to sit on so I’m not on the floor, but at the same time, I kind of like it the way it is.

I don’t get to sit in my spot all that often.  Usually I’m in a hurry or I’m browsing the library so I don’t just go settle down and unwind.  Life is so incredibly busy that I don’t feel like I have the right to sit and separate myself from what’s going on around me.  The thing is, I only need about ten to fifteen minutes in the back of that row and I’ll have a whole session of relaxing tingles that unwind me, a few random thoughts, maybe glancing through a magazine.  It doesn’t take much to really do nothing but be there.  Who knows, maybe I would be more writing productive if I were to pause there once a week when I stop in at the library.

Signing off

~Kate

I Come From

I come from the highlands

where the wind whistles and

blows through the sweet grass

I come from forests ancient and dark

where emerald moss pads the stoic

boulders and hidden streams gurgle and bubble

I come from the crashing ocean

salt spray and stinging mists

where soft sand and waves tickle your toes

I come from the mountains

where resinous pines and firs

are my incense and perfume

I come from the meadows at night

where you look up to see

millions of lights twinkling down

The stars are my friends

The trees whisper their kinship

The streams  tinkle my name

The ocean calls me home

My home is my family

safe and warm

where I can be me

But I come from. . .

I was reading Poemcrazy by Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge and one section was on where I come from. Not actually come from, since that was the Bay Area, but where I felt I belonged.  I think that is a broad answer, where I’m from, since I feel like I’m from a lot of places. Or I just happen to like a lot of places.  I wonder if they are one and the same.

I hope you all enjoy. I spit this one out today while eating lunch and scribbling with my fountain pen in my journal.

Writing on

~Kate

Was It Heaven Or Hell

I imagined you here today

Arriving on your black steed

Shining chrome and a high wax gloss

And here I am all dirty and unglamourous

But you didn’t care as you called to me

And my world fell away in a  moment

As everything faded to just you

You and your smile

 It was heaven and hell

For one minute you were here

The next back far away

Your real life much more real than the dream was

But I can still see you

Still  I feel your arms around me

Your mouth on my ear

Whispering how you have missed me

Even though we have never been

A brief taste of heaven

The bitter remains

I’ve been reading Poemcrazy  and Foolsgold by Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge and somehow her inspirations have helped me open up a bit more in the poetry department.  This was written for someone who means a great deal more to me than I probably ever say.  Hopefully he understands.

Signing off

~Kate