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, 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?