KaBooM WritersKaBooM Writers

Welcome to the online presence of KaBooM, a writing group that has sustained the creative lives of a diverse group of women for over a decade. We hope that getting to know us will inspire you, too!Welcome to the online presence of KaBooM, a writing group that has sustained the creative lives of a diverse group of women for over a decade. We hope that getting to know us will inspire you, too!

Welcome to the online presence of KaBooM, a writing group that has sustained the creative lives of a diverse group of women for over a decade. We hope that getting to know us will inspire you, too!


The KaBooM Writers Notebook: Our Blog

Writing as a Communal Art

 

I have just finished writing a poem a day during April. Having set that goal and (mostly) met it, it was a relief for the first few days not to have to come up with “something like a poem” in the midst of other obligations and demands.  At the same time, I felt bereft. The lull after the intensity of writing and sharing poems daily felt a bit like grief.

“Writing and sharing” – Yes. I gathered my poet friends via email, and we made the commitment to share a new poem daily no matter what else was going on in our lives. Part of what I miss this week is that conversation in poems, about poems, in support of our mutual (and solitary) work as poets. The surprises in the poems we shared. The way we allowed ourselves to write badly. The daily immersion in craft on some level. The encouragement of working daily. And, maybe most of all, the audience we were for each other. It’s this sense of being heard by astute but generous readers that I miss.

This was the fourth year that I have taken the month of April as a challenge to write a poem daily. This year my friends, poets George Ella Lyon (past Kentucky Poet Laureate), Sherry Chandler, Sue Churchill, and Martha Gehringer were my companions. (George Ella and Martha and I have written together in April for the past couple of years.) The level of writing was amazing some days—and bordered on silly on others (Okay, so we did cross that border!). We wrote for fun, just to see what might happen.  We could write three lines or three pages, revise or not, send something we’d started last year and wanted to rework. We could write something on our phone in a waiting room or spend a whole day wrestling with lines. The only rule was to write “something like a poem” – and even that rule was loosely applied.

As we wrote, I printed out each of our poems and put them into a loose-leaf binder. Another habit I’ve acquired.  I have four binders now, with poems from four Aprils. The binders capture the raw poems as they emerged – in the body of emails, as screen shots, or in documents we shared. Many of the poems where written “on the fly” – the fruit of productive minutes snatched from a day’s flow. A reminder of the power of setting an intention and of the collaborative nature of art. No, we did not collaborate in writing individual poems, but the poems we wrote and shared not only kept us accountable to each other but also sparked new work. What is writing but a kind of “call and response” between our words and all the literature that has ever inspired us?

When I meet with these poet-friends in person next week, we will read back through our “collected poems” of April, 2017. We intend to point out poems we particularly admired and talk about what works in these poems. I know we will laugh and moan about the “bad poems” we each produced and enjoy the freedom of letting them go. But we will each have a few poems we know we want to keep and revise—poems we see more clearly because of our friends’ responses to them.

If you haven’t tried this kind of shared writing challenge or if you didn’t get to write daily in April, start today – or write in June or whenever you choose to begin. Email some of your favorite writing buddies and see who will join you.  Not only is it more fun with friends, writing together deepens and enriches our work.

If you don’t have a local writing community, you might want to check out opportunities at The Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning here in Lexington. I have found the classes and groups at the Carnegie Center to be supportive and welcoming. Lifelong writing groups often begin with friendships formed in a class or workshop.

And, of course, the web offers many virtual groups.  The links below may be helpful.

 

National Poetry Writing Month      http://www.napowrimo.net

Websites for writers                          https://thewritelife.com/100-best-websites-for-writers-2017/

The Power of Spring Cleaning

I am spring cleaning. Hold on to those images of soapy buckets and floor waxers. Don’t expect the smell of ammonia and vinegar. I am cleaning my office: purging files, reorganizing my bookshelves, checking old drafts, and sorting through notes from presentations made long ago.

The office is chaos; the project has been underway for a month and with each day I descend into a new layer of paper.

My original goal was to weed out books I wouldn’t keep, passing them along to new readers. I hoped to shred outdated papers and sort out saved mementos that my children might appreciate. I imagined how grateful they’d be that I spared them this effort.

Fellow KaBooM writer Leatha Kendrick writes that such a process is like revision, a seeing again of the work of a life. To some extent that statement is true. As I’ve worked I’ve reread essays and stories and arranged them in file folders. Many of these pieces are accompanied by early drafts and feedback notes offered by writing friends. Many pieces feel finished. From this exercise I am reminded that throughout my career I’ve been blessed to receive immediate feedback on my writing. Because I led writing classes, and because I always wrote and shared my work, I seldom had to wait for a response. Writing in community gives a writer a public and the payoff of quick publication.

However as my cleaning continued, I find that I’ve looped through revision. I find myself back to a starting point, a moment of generation.

Examples. In what I hope will be a penultimate step, I have three relatively short stacks of papers on my desk. One stack includes articles I’ve saved. My idea is that I will read those materials and write from the ideas gleaned therein. I see enough new material to supply a writing life lasting a good many years.

Another stack includes drafts of pieces that don’t feel finished. They are a living presence, waiting for the breath that will bring them back into existence.

The third stack remains a mysterious hodgepodge. Nothing in life ever sorts into three neat piles does it?

Spring cleaning has been good on many levels. One, I simply can’t go on acquiring books. I need to invent some kind of protocol to help me make decisions about future acquisitions. Suggestions are welcome.

Two, my stacks and my file folders contain work abundant enough to carry me to the end of my days. I need not ever worry about a lack of material.

Spring cleaning is giving me new energy and reminding me of the wisdom of letting something take longer than you meant to allot for it.

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