This week, I facilitated the second of four installments of Creative Retirement Manitoba's poetry workshop.
For my first class, I relied on the in-person advice of former instructor Maurice Mierau (who was kind enough to recommend me when he got too busy) as well as the in-print counsel of Mary Oliver and Natalie Goldberg.
Good thing too, because although I'd been assured that a good proportion of the fifteen participants of the class would bring poems to the first class, only one did.
Strike that. One person brought a poem on paper and one poet, who scowled at me throughout the first class, had a few of his poems memorized.
So we exercized for two hours.
This time round, I came armed with a little of Gillian Wigmore's grit.
I chose Long Horn Cafe, from her recent collection Soft Geography (Caitlin, 2007), which is a prose poem that features a rather desperate recitation by an older man, as a lead-in to their assignment on character poems.
The fourteen women (and one scowl-y man) in the course held their breath while Long Horn Cafe was read aloud and then furiously wrote responses from the point-of-view of the man's friend (that the poem was addressed to) or of the man's wife (that the poem was about).
They were flushed and excited when they filed out of the room, congratulating each other on their work...
It was nifty to see them so energized by Gillian's writing, because I'm proud of all that she's accomplished since we were both at the Banff Center's Wired Writing Studio and she phoned my room specifically to say that she just knew we'd be friends.
(Also, when I showed the poet-prone-to-scowling the poem Vet's Daughter, from the stunning section of the same name, he smiled. Not in a creepy you-just-showed-me-a-poem-with-the-word-'cock'-in-it kind of way [I hope] but because we shared a recognition of how powerful the poem and poetry are...)