Writing, escaping and dissolving

April 20, 2005

Tonight I attended a writing workshop organized by the NY Writers Coalition. The idea of the workshop is that each person writes and then — if they wish — reads their work to the assembled group. The session begins when the facilitator reads something or makes a reference that the writers can use a starting point.

There are strict rules:
1. No one has to read or comment on anyone else’s writing unless they so desire.
2. Writers can read only things they’ve written during that particular workshop.
3. Comments should focus on feelings or reactions to the piece or its structure; no critiquing.
4. Do not assume that the writer is discussing his or her own feelings or experiences.

The first session tonight began with the facilitator reading a poem by New York chef/poet Frank Lima.

Frank Lima Posted by Hello

I’m Tired

February 21, 1994
I want you to grow old with me
i.e. to catch up to me
as I am becoming increasingly weary
of writing poems to you

the poems have
discolored my life

I’m tired of the mysterious truth
after I touch you
I’m tired of not knowing what you think about
I’m tired of women who have the same name as you
they don’t know that I’m tired of them too

I’m tired of the telephone
of its beige lips
telling me they love me
and that you don’t
that you’re a figment
in my ear

I don’t want my poems to wear out anyone else again
I don’t want to die and have this machine at
my bedside holding my hand
draping me with its affectionate black ribbon
wondering who will turn it on when I’m gone
wondering if my soul will become a kiss again.

Interestingly enough, the pieces we developed — without any planning or discussion — were very clearly divided by gender. The women wrote pieces that included references to escaping to Tahiti and drinking cocktails while being immersed in warm water; the men wrote about a heavy, pervasive weariness that extended down into (and even dissolved) their bones.

We speculated about the commonality, and someone mentioned that while it could be a coincidence, it could also be interpreted as dipping into a collective unconsciousness. Usually, that sort of reference would make me uncomfortable — or at least, skeptical — but tonight, it seemed as though it might be a logical explanation for an extraordinary occurrence.

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