Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Gather

My oh-so-delightful writing teacher Maureen (who you can find at WordPlay) gave us an exercise she calls "The Gather" the other day in class.  (It's in her book, Spinning Words Into Gold, which I highly recommend for anyone who is interested in developing their writing for any reason).

The Gather works like listen to a poem being read one time through.  You then open your notebook and draw a box in the center of the page on the left hand side with plenty of room around it.  You listen to the poem being read a second time and this time, you jot down any words or phrases that strike you as interesting or resonate with you on the paper in the space outside of the box.  The next step is to set a 3-minute timer and begin writing, using the words you gathered from the poem into your own piece.  It might be a poem, a (short) short story, a simple reflection, or complete nonsense...but you have to keep writing and work fast.

This is a really cool exercise.  When in a group of writers, it is fascinating to see how the same poem elicits such different pieces from different people.  And since I'm making an effort to both write more and share more, I thought I'd put my "gather" out for inspection.

The inspiration:

What Kind of Fool Am I?

He sang with abandon,
combing his black, black hair.
Each morning in the shower,
first in Arabic, rivery ripples
of song carrying him back
to his first beloved land,
then in English, where his repertoire
was short. No kind at all! we’d shout,
throwing ourselves into the brisk arc
of his cologne for a morning kiss.
But he gave us freedom to be fools
if we needed to, which we certainly
would later, which we all do now and then,
perhaps a father’s greatest gift—
that blessing.
--Naomi Shihab Nye

My reflection:

Isaac's Folly

What kind of fool am I?
That I would abandon
my older son
by the short-handed
trickery of Jacob
who showered me with
deception while
Esau was back to the land.
How brisk this realization,
I shout in anguish
My father's gift--the blessing
Why does God give us
freedom to be fools?

For context, see Genesis 27.


  1. Pow. er. ful.


    I can't wait to try this.

    And I love you for sharing it with me.

  2. That? is awesome. Both the exercise and (especially) your response. Way cool.