Sunday, January 23, 2011

AN "I BELIEVE" EXERCISE

Two posts in one month? I suppose I'm not surprised. Spring semester doesn't start until tomorrow, and I literally have nothing left to clean in my house. I've scrubbed the kitchen and bathrooms, washed bedding, even shredded old documents piling up in the inbox. I've had my syllabi ready for a week now, and I know what I'm wearing for the first week of classes. Escaping myself sounds kinda good right now.

The good news is, I think I'm on the uphill climb out of my shitty-poems-only phase. I'm starting to come up with some that might be worth sending out after revision. Because I'm not as frustrated now, I'm starting to play with exercises more often, if only to kill time before class. (Someone please remind me how bored I was when I am swamped in essays and writing assignments.) (But do it in a not-snarky kind of way, because I'm half joking, and nobody likes a know-it-all.)

My friend Adrienne Christian just posted a blog in which she tries out an exercise from the book Poet's Companion by Dorianne Laux and Kim Addonizio-- a text I've used before in my introductory creative writing class. The exercise tells participants to write out six serious things they believe in, six silly things they believe in, etc. etc. I was attracted to the exercise because it didn't promise a tried and true "poem" at the end; its purpose is to kickstart multiple ideas at once. It's also one of those exercises that serves as a good opportunity for the writer to get to know herself, although, as always, there is room for fiction. :)

So here's my take on the exercise. Thanks, Adrienne!

WHAT I BELIEVE AND WHATNOT, ETCETERA

I believe in judging people based on how they respond to animals, even though I shouldn’t. I believe almost every woman falls in love with another woman at least once in her lifetime. I believe the military is untrustworthy. I believe in forgiveness, the psychological effects of color, and the power of a good orchestra.

I’m pretty sure there’s a devil, that he has helpers, that he has ongoing border disputes. I’m pretty sure love at first sight is an excuse for laziness. I’m pretty sure I’m barren, and that for every man who’s loved me, there are five others who wouldn’t know why. I’m pretty sure my father’s spirit will come home for Christmas.

I’m not sure about the old man at the grocery store who kissed me on the cheek. I’m not sure I’m as complex as I hoped I’d be. I’m not sure of writers who admire my work, nor am I sure of those who dismiss it. I’m not sure I’d survive my husband being killed in combat. I’m not sure about tangerines that have been in the refrigerator for a month and still look fresh.

I don’t think about my financial future enough. I don’t think I look good in most shades of red. I don’t think daffodils are in season long enough. I don’t think I’m entirely honest with people and I don’t think I ought to be. I don’t think I eat enough fiber. I don’t think I like foods that are high-fiber.

I don’t believe wearing nylons is worth the discomfort and maintenance. I don’t believe I’ve eaten more than three desserts I didn’t crave later. I don’t believe people are as kind as they think they are, myself included. I don’t believe in the retelling of that story where Iphigenia escapes. I don’t believe in pride, and I certainly don’t believe in rabbits that live inside of hats.


...

No comments: