[#AMWRITING] 11 poems in 15 hours

Late Saturday Night, my own personal writing workshop 

Last weekend I spent Thursday night through midday Sunday at the autumn #YAWP event at Port Townsend where a couple dozen writers gathered to work out their muscles on morning freewrites, then head for their writing spaces to keep the action going. Some were there for NaNoWriMo, others were brainstorming the orders of poems in chapbooks, still others were just throwing themselves to the writerly winds like the leaves tossed around in the fall bluster.

Getting prepped for the weekend
with a pot of buffalo chili,
a campfire and stars

I went in with a plan to write an abecedarian chapbook, 26 poems linked by the alphabet and a singular theme (which I won’t reveal right now). Thursday night I spent in front of the campfire (every time I head up to Port Townsend these days, I stay in my camping trailer rather than the facilities at Fort Worden, where I can cook, have campfires, etc.).

The night was clear and crisp, stars burning overhead… a great opportunity to cook buffalo chili on the outside burner (my trailer has a second tailgate kitchen outside), then sit and warm my shins in front of smoky, glimmering coals and flames. Afterward, I read.

On Friday, I took part in the freewrites from ten to noon and blasted out some fresh material previously lost to memory, about a funeral, plus new massaging of the idea of campfires, coals and Icarus (hmmm, what could have inspired that?) as well as an incredible launch into remembrances that will fuel future writing projects (thank you, Rebecca Brown!).

I had worldly work to do on Friday–launching my weekly curation of sleep news–and found a cozy tea house, Pippa’s, in downtown Port Townsend to web-connect and got that done. Their iced Lady Grey Tea is fabulous, by the way.

Afterward I came back and wrote two brand-new poems toward the abecedarian in just about two hours (I also spent about thirty minutes of that time wrangling with the architecture of the book).

Then I was off to dinner and a reading with my literary sister from another mister, Kristy Webster, who launched her first short story collection, The Gift of an Imaginary Girl, at Imprint Books. So many great stories, ideas, people… afterward, I came back and wrote three more poems (C, D and E) in the space of two hours. Creative energy is sustaining like that.

And I read some more. Brain on Fire, in case you’re wondering. The title, at least, seems apropo in hindsight.

No recipe, just a good pot, fresh
food and a will to live. 

Saturday rolled around and I felt compelled to keep on this sprint of new poem creation, so I skipped the morning freewrites (certainly an acceptable practice at the YAWP, which is ultimately all about writers writing however they must) and pinched out four more poems while a pot roast with carrots, thyme, onions, mushrooms and parsnips simmered on the inside burner.

At dinner hour, I took a break, indulged in pot roast, mashed potatoes and mushroom gravy, then realized I had yet to even shower.

Meanwhile, another reading was slated to take place that night in downtown Port Townsend, featuring my brother from another mother, Jordan Hartt as he launched his new book of poems, Leap.

Jordan, I’m holding
out for my signed

Ack! What to do? Shower and arrive late or go with the flow that Jordan opens up for all of us during these YAWP weekends: to write, then write some more.

I chose pajamas. I wrote some more, and poems J and K were born before my neurologically challenged brain showed me the brick wall two hours later. I switched up only slightly and went to bed, and read some more.

Next morning, I ate and showered, then discovered that one of my poems, poem F, was actually a poem within a poem, so I liberated poem R into being and added new layers to poem K. Two more hours passed and then it was time to go, no farewell breakfast, no friendly waves or honks to my cohorts. The drive home was quiet and beautiful, fall gold against a rain-washed blue sky, and the mountains were laced in new snow.

Just now, I re-read what I wrote this weekend and encountered the same feeling I often experience after an immersive period of write: a mixture of Wow, of “I don’t remember even writing that!”, of my tinkering brain already shaping a revision strategy (a good thing), and noticing the new ideas already taking residence in the pages I’d reserved for them, anticipating their eventual visit.

I am not sure if the gang at the YAWP made it back to House 259 for their evening share following Jordan’s reading on Saturday night, but I think they will forgive me knowing I was writing and reading and doing the things that YAWP permits.

Still, I missed out on hugs and words with so many fine people, like Bonnie and Tom and D.D. and Diana, Charisse and Rebecca, Christine and Grace (who I actually did see at the Safeway on Friday night when I stopped in for a post-reading slice of pumpkin pie) and many more.

Thank you to my family of muses again for an incredibly productive weekend; you may not have seen much of me but your energy launched me yet again, for which I’m forever grateful.

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