It’s a week since Becca and I ran our first workshop together for Quimperfect Tense. We already knew that we were going to learn a lot through the experience, and that there would probably be a lot to improve from this first workshop, but we were both absolutely stunned and delighted by how well it went.
We had ten lovely participants, which meant we met our ideal minimum quota and covered our expenses for the day – one of the most important parts! There was a great mixture of friends and new faces, men and women, new writers and old hands, which made for a really interesting and dynamic group.
One of the main things we had aimed for was to run the writing activities at a pace that would suit both the new and experienced writers in the room, which we tried to do by having a mix of writing, group/pair work, and icebreaker-type exercises that involved everyone getting up and moving around.
One of our favourite exercises was ‘Joys of the Body’, which we created as a group in response to this quote:
“SADNESSES OF THE BODY: Mirror sadness; Sadness of [looking] like or unlike one’s parents; Sadness of not knowing if your body is normal; Sadness of knowing your [body is] not normal; Sadness of knowing your body is normal; Beauty sadness; Sadness of m[ake]up; Sadness of physical pain; Pins-and-[needles sadness]; Sadness of clothes [sic]; Sadness of the quavering eyelid; Sadness of a missing rib; Noticeable sad[ness]; Sadness of going unnoticed; The sadness of having genitals that are not like those of your lover; The sadness of having genitals that are like those of your lover; Sadness of hands”
– Jonathan Safran Foer, Everything is Illuminated
After we had come up with a list of joys, we each wrote a line about a joy we took in bodies, and put them together to make this group poem:
Joys of the Body
Without real risk, there cannot be real salvation.
Learning what tension is, and how you can create it. A net that would catch fish.
Skin shivers wave laps thighs lungs fill and empty. Breath steers body-ship South.
Sleeping, we make a dovetail joined of our bodies. Interlock, separate, interlock.
Submerge fingertips in clay.
Small children poking bruises just to see.
Counting down nineteen minutes for the drugs to work.
Dancing is read, spin Autumn leaf, flow in air. Ground yourself, sway side by side.
At the arrival of your fingers my sweat springs off in beads.
True happiness comes from laughing until you cry.
Cold outside, but the body’s warmth fills me with gladness, invigorating, recharging.
Overall it was really exciting to plan, fantastic fun to run, and I’d like to offer an enormous thanks to everyone who came and took part (and to Madlab for looking after us!).
We’re planning to run another workshop on May 10th, which will be on a new theme, yet to be decided. I’m obviously biased, but I think you’ll have a really good time if you decide to come along!