Saturday, February 17, 2007

Poetry Workshop

St. Mark's Episcopal church sponsored a wonderful poetry workshop at Church of Reconciliation Episcopal today. Attending and directing it was Enedina Vasquez who is a wonderful poet and a really good glass artist. We also had the Reverend Mary Earle who is loved by many Episcopalians in my church and at St. Mark's. She too is a wonderfully spiritual poet and a very good preacher. The Sharing Spiritual Practices Workshop Saturdays which they are leading are a real blessing. I learned more about writing poetry as a connection to my spirit, my past and my growth in 4 hours than I ever learned in school. From the moment they started the air seemed to breathe words and I found myself writing poetry even before the writing exercises began.

After the nice opening and prayer, Mary Earle read a couple of poems and then handed the program over to Enedina. Enedina read mostly from her own works and they were wonderful multidimensional paintings of people she knew growing up and how life had changed them and her. In her poetry you could hear the whole community speaking as she tied everyone together.

Then we started looking at words. We started with "Door." We described it and told what it did and how it sounded. When we were done the dry write board was covered with words that tied door to images from our lives and experiences. After that she asked us to write our own ribbon poem. To help us keep a ribbon in focus she gave us each a ribbon of paper and we wrote our poems upon it. Some people used both sides. Mine took just one and revisited the childhood birthday story.


The ribbon wrapped around the gift for the birthday party.
It wasn't my party and the ribbon tied me
to the car with fear of being at the wrong house.
Even today that ribbon binds the gifts I want to give
Locked inside the loops that only I can untangle
to be there in the right place with the right offering.

We shared some of our poems and all were good. Many were so beautiful that we were thrilled and oohed and aahed with delight. Then after a short break we were invited to step out to the Reconciliation garden to write about it and how it spoke to us. We were also instructed to write about a garden we knew. I wish I could remember all the ones that came out of that exercise. Some of them were truly gifted writing and worthy of publishing.

Spirits in the Garden

Swirling mass of white dots
not quite seen out of
the corner of my eye.
This is the closest I can get
to seeing the spirits
gathered here.
I'd heard about them from others
and wanted to meet one,
the fantasy of my heart
connecting with the perpetuity of God

Green and lush with a wind
that whispers through
The water pouring out of
and onto the stone of life
in a world so hardened by greed
eons pass before it is broken down.

Down to the dust
from which we were made
and to which we return.
Scattered here to remember
and remind
those left behind.

That life goes on
connected through death's door
to a garden where
Masses of swirling white dots meet
not quite seen
out of the corner of my eye.

That poem led to another where the garden was more inside, more personal and better known. I wasn't the only one who came up with more than one poem in that garden. We were encouraged to consider these ongoing works; works in progress. Enedina asked us to keep on working on these and to keep in touch with her. She really liked what we had done and the uniqueness of each soul there was beautifully displayed in a sharing of our love and joy in the life we had lived and even the tears as we conquered the hard times of sorrow and loss.

Many Colored Garden

In the garden of my soul you'll find
shy violets
red roses that climb
small blue flowers whose name I can't recall

Such are the colors of my heart,
mixed in with the green of life
and the brown of death and decay
from which soil all new life
must take nourishment and grow.

Breaking through the door to greet the Son
is the struggle that makes
life worth living for
If life only grew from life we might
never know death and if
we didn't know death
Eternal life would have no meaning.

Oh but that struggle to
rise above death, dust, failure, sin
is SO hard
That when at last I
see the Son I
weep with joy
My tears watering the
shy violets
red roses that climb
and the blue flowers
Whose name I can't recall.

The next workshop will be one on making scared spaces and is scheduled for March. I hope to be there. I've been looking for a way to build an alter in my small apartment and am looking forward to finding a chance to bring God closer in my home.


murat11 said...


Your ribbon poem struck me as this perfect poem, tying the pain and struggle that still lives and breathes from those earlier days. What's amazing is the economy of words that captures what you wanted to say.

I like the flowers in your garden as well. The repetition of "the blue flowers / Whose name I can't recall" reminded me of Enedina's poem with the "two little children at her feet" and the haunting image of the child who had been buried "somewhere" the mother could not "quite recall." That was powerful stuff.

Write on and peace.

Lee said...

Thank you, Murat! Economy of words? That is new for me. (g) I'm usually overly wordy. That's high praise!

I'm glad you liked them. Yes, the flowers do remind me of that. Enedina read us that poem in the workshop. After hearing hers the repetition line seemed like the perfect closing. She also gave us a copy of I Kept Your Pajamas. She is a wonderful poet and I learned a lot from her.


jsd said...

lovely poetry lee, "and the blue flowers Whose name I can't recall" is just wonderful.

Lee said...

I'm glad you liked them, JSD! Wish your schedule had allowed you to attend. Maybe next time?