Monday, July 28, 2014

Topeka Immersion-Somatic-Becoming Poetry Project #6

Topeka Immersion-Somatic-Becoming Poetry Project #6
for Leslie Von Holten


This project is in two parts. You will need a good sketchbook, a pencil (charcoal preferred), and a pen.

Go to a coffeehouse, a park, a historical location, or somewhere people are.

For the first part, you are an artist. You specialize in drawing. If you cannot draw, don't worry. You can sketch. Sketch or draw the best you can.

You are working on a collage of things. You are an artist working in your own style.

Take fifteen minutes to relax and mediate, then relax until you notice something or someone that interests you. Do your best to draw her or him, or the thing of interest. Sketch if you want to. Draw or sketch wherever you want on the page. Sketch or draw how much feels right to you. Leave lines unfinished. Leave lines going into other parts of the page.

Work in pencil or charcoal. Avoid self-editing. Simply continue or combine.

Continue relaxing, sketching and drawing whatever attracts your interest.

You are an artist in a public place, sketching your impressions of that place, everything in it, in the way you sketch or draw, in the way you are interested in the things there in that moment.

When you finish, be sure to date and sign the back. Sign the front if you want.


For the second part, you start another page while looking at your collage.

You are a poet now. Write whatever impressions you feel from the art.

Use concrete nouns, words to describe what is happening on the page.

If you feel a narrative, write a narrative. If you feel lyrical, write a lyrical poem.

Make connections with the connections on the page. Is there someone looking at something? Write about it.

Work in pen. Avoid self-editing. Simply continue or combine.

Feel free to not get it right. You are a poet. You can write whatever you want and not have it right.


Sketch a collage and write a poem each day of a month. Go to the same place every day.


At the end of the month, contact the place you went to and ask about doing an art show. If a coffeehouse, ask the manager about a show.  If you chose a park, tack up your work on trees.


The goal of this project is to 1) further finding the artist-poet in each of us and 2) to find connections with place and community. Each of us can connect with community in many ways. This is one way to do it.

Topeka Somatic-Eavesdropping-Attachment Poetry Project #5

Topeka Somatic-Eavesdropping-Attachment Poetry Project #5
for Kevin Rabas

Go to your favorite coffeehouse with pen, paper, and a poetry book. You should do this project when people are around.

Start with your coffee or whatever drink at your table, getting into your meditation. Breathe, relax, take in everything in the coffeehouse, everything in the moment.

You will be moving during the project. Move to another spot if you feel it is right. This is to be active in the present moment.

You will also be at rest and waiting. Rest and wait if you feel it is right. This is to be active in the present moment.

You will also write based on what is overheard, what comes to your mind, and what is in your book. Write whatever you feel. Follow your creative moment in deciding which to consult.

Keep in mind you can riff.

It takes a little while to get into doing this. You might feel foolish moving around so much, then remaining still. After half an hour, you will find your stride.

If you need to, take your iPod, Walkman, etc. to wear. Listen to your favorite Jazz tunes at a low setting so you can still overhear what is going on.

An alternative to listening is lip-reading, tapping on the table, and such.

Give this poem to a friend or someone in the coffeehouse.


Kevin wrote to me, "Jazz is improvisation. Everything is improvisation." He is an amazing poet and Jazz musician, so this project riffs off of his quote." The idea for this also came from how when Kevin and I are together we enjoy hanging out at coffeehouses. We sometimes do spur-of-the-moment writing exercises, often putting together a chapbook of poems from Xeroxed notepad paper.

I often go to coffeehouses to meet with someone, to write, or to grade online. With any of these, I become tunnel-visioned out of concentration. This project attempts to do the opposite, to connect with others without being too obtrusive. To improvise. To be in the moment.

T.S. Monk: "What a lot of people don’t understand is that jazz is not driven by technique. Jazz is driven by philosophy and it has always been driven by philosophy. There’s a root philosophy to the music that will pass down from generation to generation and one of those philosophies is that you can’t stay in the same place. You must move forward. You must stay on or as close to the cutting edge as you possibly can. The objective is to explore the unknown. Fear of the unknown drives so much negativity in the human psyche. It is the objective – going back to Buddy Bolden and Louis Armstrong – to play something that you never played before."

I am taking Monk's quote figuratively and literally, that a poet keeps moving, keeps improvising, going forward.