Poetic Power with Badgerdog's Silver Voices in Ink

Recently, I had the great honor of subbing for a Silver Voices in Ink session, an astounding program offered through Badgerdog Publishing. The website describes the Silver Voices program as a "creative writing program for senior citizens that helps older adults to strengthen language skills in order to reflect on and articulate personal experiences through memorable poetry and prose." Articulate their personal experiences? Heck, how about knocking the socks off of mine?

To get my poets primed, Thar she blows!I turned to my all-time fave writing resource - Nancie Atwell's Naming the World: A Year of Poems  - choosing her "Where I'm From" lesson. I have to tell you that primed SVI creative pumps make Old Faithful look like a garden hose leak. These Silver Voices mined pure gold.

Here's how it all went down. After reading and discussing selections of "Where I'm From" poems, the SVI poets were asked to imagine themselves as children. They could choose whatever age they'd like or move around in time, if that fanned their fancy. Then they filled out a questionnaire consisting of ten questions about their childhood. They answered questions such as what toys did they play with, what singers did they listen to, and what did they watch on TV? 

TV? Ha! Many of the poets didn't have television when they were children. Oh, baby, we hit pay dirt with that one. We reminisced about Gene Autry and the Grand Old Opry, Lawrence Welk, and wonderous days of Big Band brass. We chatted about sling shots and climbing trees, pie-eating picnics, and melted Milky Way bars. After we strolled down Memory Lane, I asked them to detail those treasures in a list poem, and they came through, loud and clear.

 After we scrawled our thoughts on paper, the poets shared their work, openly, with each other. Ripples of, "Oh, yeah...," spread through the room as a reader unearthed gems from the their shared past. And, to top it all off,  a jaunty little lady and I sang a two-part harmonic rendition of "You Are My Sunshine" together. How cool it that?

A Delightfully Creative Day

At 10:00 this morning, I high-tailed my caffeine-infused self down to East 6th Street to lead a creative writing workshop for Badgerdog at the coolest, most hip place in town - Write By Night. This was one of those experiences that - while I wasn't completely certain what it was I agreed to do - turned out GREAT!

The attendees were, hands down, the most boldly talented writers I've ever known. We worked their current works-in-progress. Good stuff, I have to say. Under the guise of character development, plot structure, theme, and story trajectory; together we dared to enter the innermost cave of literary darkness and light.

We played that wonderfully delicious game writers love to play - What If? Throwing any limitation out the groovey Write By Night window, we considered all creative aspects worthy of enhancing the potential of their tales. What if a death caused by a botched herbal healing poultice? Can the errors made in the past haunt a contemporary girl of today? What can she do to break the spell that binds her and the rest of her family? How can one small boy defeat the all powerful evil Night Mayor (Clever word play, don't you think? I wish I could take credit for it, but I can't. Drat.)? What powers must the boy possess? What powers are inherent within? What is he lacking? And, how, in the heck, can we structure these epic tales in some logical, plausible way that will pay tribute to these amazing young writers' intent?

Hours sped by like the strike of a match. Creative juices pulsed. Goosebumps prickled. Funny bones were tickled. The best is that, within two short hours, people who were once strangers became supportive friends, all because of the love of crafting words on the page. Thank you, Badgerdog and Write By Night for sharing your vision and space with us. Know that magic happened today and that I'm honored to have played a teeny role in its manifestation.