Poetry Workshop Wonders: List-Definition Poems & Defining Home

This afternoon, I had the privilege of spending time in one of my favorite places with my favorite people: a community creativity workshop.  This October and November, I’m leading my last Lunch Hour Language Artists Workshop Series as Cupertino Poet Laureate.

Perhaps it’s because the end of my term is drawing near, or perhaps it’s because the group of attendees at these workshops never fail to inspire and humble me, but I find myself looking more and more forward to each session.

46R4BWGDYUI6NJK7YYP2B6SSAQThe theme for LHLA 3 is “Poetry of Place.” In the first session, we wrote about our childhood homes. Today the focus was on finding and defining home, and I introduced the concept of List-Definition Poetry — a form I made up that combines the list poem and the definition poem.

I structured the workshop so participants would consider the juxtaposition of “Home Then,” and “Home Now.” I like to join in during writing time whenever possible, and I was amazed by how my brainstorming around “Home Now” centered on the people I’ve met and worked with during my time as CPL and how much I’ll miss hosting these community events.

I feel truly blessed to have had my life touched by so many amazing people and their moving poetry. I can’t wait to see where the poem I started today leads as I continue to work on it over the next few months.

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At the start of our writing period, the group and I brainstormed words and phrases related to the concept of “Home, Then and Now” to generate ideas for our own List-Definition poems. If you weren’t able to join us, you can use the same concept as a poetry prompt!

I thought it would be interesting to turn our brainstorming lists into a poem using every word and phrase generated.

Let me know what you think in the comments!

Then and Now

Then we were fearless
running in clean air
with the outside cats
through mustard yellow fields
playing with the neighbors
on rope swings in fruit trees.

Then we were joyful and safe
in our backyard adventures
our trust in friends expansive
jumping from diving boards
into swimming pools.

Then we were playful
trudging through white snow
splashing into cedar hot tubs,
seldom lonely and only
sometimes confused.

Now we are isolated
amidst the tall green spires
in a sea of dusty earthquakes,
suffocating in politics
and exhausting chaos.

Now our expensive empty nests
feel claustrophobic and tiny,
leaving us alone but safe
in our book-filled havens.

Now, as then, we find love and gratitude
hidden in Sunday dinners and boba tea,
waiting between cracks on the sidewalks
and countless cars parked on freeways.

Then and now we are Cupertino.
                                                            © 2019 Kaecey McCormick

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Collective Poem: Building a Voice Together

Yesterday, at Sonic Boom, the first session in my Sound and Sense workshop series, our warm-up exercise was to collectively write a poem. Each participant contributed one line, but to ensure some cohesiveness and pattern we voted on three things each line must have: each line had to begin with “You,” contain a type of weather, and showcase a feeling. Each writer then read his or her line aloud, one after the other, and it was often serendipitous in word choice, emotion, and weather.

Here is our collective poem (unedited):

All that You Are

You set me on fire in this stormy sea.
You, my dear storm-torn sea,
abcdeplease show me the joyful white tops of your waves.
You look so blue; could it be the last thirty days of rain?
You open summer rains to water my joy.
You make me feel the sunshine when it rains.
You tearfully rain down on my fretful life.
You and your melancholy are the humid summer air,
abcde
choking my love into lifelessness.
You love blustery winds.
You bluster along in a most annoying way.
You look out over the crowd,
abcde
feeling the queasiness that comes before a storm.
You are a drizzle of calm in my fear.
You shiver when gentle raindrops stroke your nose.
You create a hurricane of anxiety in my soul.
You are lost in fog,
abcdefeeling forgotten.

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