Once upon a time, I took a workshop from Harry Thurston who is described as Canada’s naturalist poet. He was impressive. I’m terrible at poetry; just ask any of my writer friends who write it. I think I may have written half dozen of them in my time and all very badly.
The workshop was at White Point Beach Resort: a beautiful spot on the South Shore of NS with gorgeous sands and bunnies all around the property. Harry asked us to walk the beach for about ½ an hour and pick up something that ‘spoke’ to us. Then come back with the object, grab a coffee, and wait. That alone, was wonderful. We reassembled with coffees and artifact in hand to our tables and the writing magic began.
He told us that we could use a formula if we liked to help egg on the poet muse. I’m going to share with you what I remember of the formula as it’s pretty cool. Mind you, a stale formula on a writer’s blog page cannot recreate the magic of that workshop in any way, shape, or form. I encourage you to attend any of his workshops if you are able.
- First: Describe the object physically. Use as many senses as you like
- Second: Imagine its history
- Third: Imagine how it got to the place where you picked it up
- Fourth: Imagine it’s future.
Poets will be very creative with this formula. As a fiction writer, I was pleased I was able to have a guideline. The results—which we read out loud—were astounding.
Try it out, and feel free to share here or at the very least, tell us what object you picked.