by Kathrine Sowerby
This tool was commissioned as part of the Words Work Well for All project (2018-2019) funded by Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership via the Wellbeing for Longer in Glasgow Fund.
As guest author I led two sessions of Writing in the Garden at Woodlands Workspace, Woodlands Community Garden, as part of a six week creative writing course facilitated by Gerry Loose.
This session was based on letter writing, or addressing a piece of writing to someone or something, and the use of repetition. I opened the session by telling the group about poems I was currently writing to an imagined person who was also perhaps a place and the origins of their name. I also suggested they keep in mind that letter writing can stir up unexpected emotions and that to keep it light if it did not feel like the time or place for that and that there would be no pressure to read final work out if it felt too personal.
1. On two sections of paper write (without thinking too long or hard about it):
Things you love
Things you hate
This could be colours, food, people, places, objects, pets, weather, sounds, smells, tastes, textures etc
Share with group
2. Repetition – using something from the love/hate lists start with the same beginning Dear _________ with a line elaborating why and repeat several times e.g.
Dear coffee, I love to start my day with you
Dear coffee, you are comforting when I am cold
Dear coffee, your smell surrounds me
Share with group
3. Think of other ways to address a recipient – Beloved, My Faithful Friend, Little Black Cat, Big Pink House, Deep Green Pond….
Write a few down, referring back to the lists
Share with group
4. Postcard writing – write a message to a real or imagined person or place or animal etc using what has been explored with love/hate with different address and with repetition in mind.
(tell the person/place/thing anything you want – how do you feel, what is happening in your life/the world, what you really think of them, what they have brought to your life, how much they mean to you)
Share with group if appropriate
5. Extras – if more time allowed the final written piece could be a longer letter, which could be distilled in a shorter poem in the group setting or as an exercise at home.
This Is Just To Say
I have eaten
that were in
you were probably
they were delicious
and so cold
In retrospect this was a potentially heavy session to take to a group I was meeting for the first time but Gerry had told me about the group and I thought this was something they could explore at whatever level they chose to, which turned out to be the case. The session began with the group sharing work they had written at home from the previous meeting, which gave me a chance to get to know participants and how to set the tone of the exercises.
The first part was the most surprising as sharing our love/hate lists prompted quite strong reactions from others and there was a lot to discuss. This exercise could be diluted into like/dislike lists in more sensitive settings.
The written work produced by the group ranged from deeply personal to powerful to humorous, it felt like a valuable exercise for some. It was good to have Gerry involved as both tutor and participant and as someone who knew the group already, I appreciated his input and feedback. Woodlands Workspace provided a calm, welcoming environment for a small writing group, it felt like a warm dynamic had already been cultivated between participants and it was a pleasure to experience that.