As some of you may (or may not) know, I’m currently lecturing at Loughborough Uni, working primarily with third year students. Part of the job is to get the students writing – not to a set formula, but to the natural development of their own voices.
This week we did ‘The Mythic Self’ – using metaphor and the Jung’s ‘symbolism’ to initiate a third ground, where the inner poet’s shivered selves, can realign and co-exist – not happily ever after mind you. Just in the same inspired space. The best poetry often comes from writing ‘the wound’ (Lorca’s mana) and I’m happy to say, a lot of the young writers present that day were well on their way to tapping into their ‘dark interiors’.
It got me thinking about rough writing exercises. I’ve done a lot of them in my time, but since most of my resources were thrown away (we won’t go there) I’ve been a bit stuck for inspiration. Luckily for me, Kerry Featherstone was on hand to give a bit of advice.
I love the sound of this exercise, and I want you to try it at home. Sex and Death – two opposing ideas, right? Absolutely, and like the Poetry Engine, full of opposing forces that encourage friction, energy, and drama in language.
Sex and Death exercise challenge: how to do it:
Can be done in alone, in pairs, or in two groups.
- Write as many words, phrases, sentences as you can think of to describe sex. Be descriptive, real, pared back. Time yourself (4 minutes.)
2. Either your partner, or the other group (or your other self!) does the same for death. Timed (4 minutes.)
3. Take the sex page. Shape, and craft a rough poem about death using these words.
4. Take the death page. Shape, and a craft a poem poem about sex using these words.
What happens next?
I’ve done this at home, with brilliant results, and I’ll be sharing at the end of next week. If you fancy taking up the Death/Sex challenge, and what to be part of the sharing, send your poems to me and I’ll tweet some extracts. Or tag me in the extracts you tweet: @HelenCalcutt.
Let’s see how crazy/beautiful we can be….and how many others we can get involved!