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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FREE CREATIVE WRITING WORKSHOPS – POETRY OF PLACE!

LUNCH HOUR LANGUAGE ARTISTS (1)Starting this week, I’m offering FOUR free creative writing workshops as part of my last Lunch Hour Language Artist series as Poet Laureate. Though I’m sad this will be my last workshop series as your CPL, I’m *super* excited about this particular grouping of workshops.

That’s because in series we’ll explore one of my favorite things: Poetry of Place with a focus on revision. Throughout the series, we’ll investigate poetry related to homes, journeys and maps, and places of the imagination. While the lessons in each workshop are designed to build on each other, it’s not necessary to attend them all as each works well as a free-standing workshop.

Here are the session dates and times: 

  • Session 1: 10/16, 12:00 – 1:30PM
  • Session 2: 10/30, 12:00 – 1:30PM
  • Session 3: 11/06, 12:00 – 1:30PM
  • Session 4: 11/20, 12:00 – 1:30PM

SPECIAL NOTE: We’ll be meeting at the Quinlan Community Center in the Music Room.

No previous poetry or writing experience necessary! Attend one, some, or all of the meetings in the series.

Space is limited

SPACE IS LIMITED! Please reserve a ticket on Eventbrite or email Kaecey to save a seat. If your plans change and you can no longer attend after reserving a seat, no worries. I only ask that you email me so I can free up a seat for another participant!

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS!

SUBMIT YOUR WORK!If you live or work in the South Bay or Peninsula area, consider submitting your creative writing for inclusion in this community anthology! This is a chance for the many varied and beautiful voices of our community to come together. I would love to include pieces in other languages with English translation.

If the work you submit was inspired by a CPL event or program, let me know!

EVERYONE is welcome to submit — kids, teens, adults, new writers, and established!!

Check out the flyer below and email with questions!
Deadline is 9/30.
No more than 10 poems or pages of short prose pieces.
Previously published is fine (include the relevant information).

Email your work to poetlaureate@cupertino.org

Community Poetry Night: Inspired by Nature

Free community event TONIGHT!! 7pm, Cupertino Library.

Join us in celebrating nature-inspired poetry. The evening will begin with a tour of nature poetry through the ages. Twelve local poets will then read their nature-inspired work. Finally, it’s open mic time! Step up to share your poetry (or poetry you didn’t write but simply love) on any subject, or simply listen and enjoy.

For more information, email Kaecey at poetlaureate@cupertino.org.

See you there!

First Lines

This week, I had the privilege of spending 90 minutes with sixteen fabulous poets from the community at my Nature-made Poetry Workshop. We explored nature through an up-close and personal lens, and then from a distance. I was humbled by the beautiful poems that were shared with the group at the end of the session.

Before we started writing our own poems, however, I had everyone participate in a warm-up exercise called “First Line.” In this exercise, the first line from an existing poem is provided, and the poem is then passed around the table with each poet adding a subsequent line.

Like our nature exploration, this exercise has the poet first focusing narrowly on the line that came before, then from a distance to take into account the whole of the emerging poem. What resulted from each group was a meaningful poem, which you can enjoy below.

Interested in trying a workshop?

Come join me on Wednesday 8/7 from 12:00-1:30PM in the final Nature-made Poetry Workshop. You do not need to have attended the previous workshops to join in the fun.

And don’t forget to RSVP to the Nature-themed Community Poetry Night happening on Thursday 8/8. Details and tickets available here.

Enjoy the sunshine and the natural world in its summer state!

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WARM-UP “FIRST LINE” POEMS FROM 7/31/19 CPL WORKSHOP

woman s face

Nature-made Workshop Group Poem A
after “Packing” by Sampurna Chattarji

I put in a butterfly, first
and a drop of cherry juice
watched its wings turn the color of sunset
in the blazing sun
brushed with the flowers of the clouds
its wings carried it through, to the heavens
and beyond
into my dreams from which I woke
and rose through the day, butterfly

 

Nature-made Workshop Group Poem B
after “Replication of Desire” by Lee Herrick

How much delight before we collapsesilhouette photo of couple standing outdoors
Thoughts tumble as I grapple with my heart
Hearts expand, smiles abound
We strive to connect to all
Give me ten more seconds, I’ll survive
When you tickle me unconscious

 

Nature-made Workshop Group Poem C
after “California Hills in August” by Dana Gioia

I can imagine someone who foundphoto of person walking on deserted island
a redwood growing in the desert
kelp rising up from a bed of fern
stood there stricken with awe
color, dry sand, green and alive
on this planet, I can thrive

 

 

Nature-made Workshop Group Poem D
after “Beauty is brief and violent” by Snehad Vadher

Beauty is brief and violentflour
Punching a fist in the flour that will be cake
A splash of strawberry icing has lent
Its sweetness to the chill of celebration
Family gathers around and sings, and sings
Until hoorah explodes and the crowd ebbs

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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