amongst books

amongst books

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Impromptu #14 – close attention

Today’s prompt by Brian Oliu was to set aside twenty minutes to jot down stuff you experience firsthand with no edits, and also “without prejudice,” which I take to mean as objectively as possible . I do this routinely, pretty much every day when I’m out and about. Sometimes bits of it will work itself in a poem. It’s a type of gleaning and a chance for reflection.  

What I have below is twenty minutes sitting on my couch in front of the balcony watching traffic go by. What I noticed about this prompt, which is important, is that the more I pay attention to both myself and my surroundings, tuning out the distractions of the Internet etc, the more detail I start to notice. I’ve typed in the first 12 of 16 pages but I got bored doing so, so stopped.

What fascinated me more was Brian’s description of method writing. I dig that idea, and thought of trying to do something I’ve never done before, such as baking bread, but in the end, I went with pure observation. I think this is an important exercise for all writers because it forces you to pay close attention, to listen closely and to pay attention not only to your surroundings, but also to your body. It’s part of what I need to do to write anything at all.

red stoneware mug looseleaf irish breakfast tea into teaball leaves fall brush with right and into cupped left hand into garbage can sip lukewarm water from two-thirds full

glass spread purple curtains sit on red couch 3 cars north on Bronson kettle boils pour boiling water into mug set timer for five minutes pick up pen cap falls off pick up place

on pen email notice on phone for Liz Vice tour one car south on Bronson police car passes five cars north white blue red white white two people walk west on Somerset

one car turns left on Cooper bus travels east on Somerset one person runs north on Bronson  check weather 6 ◦ C feels like 5, sunny playing Steve Reich’s Music for 18

Musicians on my phone on youtube it stops when I use other apps wind chimes on balcony ring cyclist goes left on Cooper timer goes off I put pen down remove tea ball

from mug tea is colour of dark caramel add splash of milk to lighten take small sip three cars at intersection at Bronson and Somerset cyclist rides south on Bronson white OC

Transpo Para Transpo vehicle south on Bronson 4 cars at intersection going south 5 cars, 6 cars, 2 cars turn left off Somerset travelling north on Bronson white, red

another sip of tea I am perched on the edge of the cushion so I can see out the window
my body is hunched over the pages of my journal my handwriting is hard

for me to read I try to write slower 4 cars at traffic light at Bronson and Nepean travelling south a larger sip of tea still very hot, too hot it scalds

my throat as I swallow staedtler permanent black marker presses up against the outer edge of the 2nd finger of my right hand against the writer’s lump my index finger

holding the pen in place another sip of tea 6 cars south and 5 cars north on Bronson
further up between Somerset and Gladstone sun makes rooftops

of cars sparkle I sit further against couch back open right side of curtains wider
tuck in behind couch to hold in place curl my legs up reach for tea balance mug

on left leg navy blue, green and black tartan men’s pajama bottoms stop to answer text
from  husband the music is interrupted my pen falls can’t find it dig around behind

couch beside radiator beneath couch get another pen sit down notice fallen pen in grooves of balcony door pick up pen sip tea adjust curtain which has come loose from

behind couch balance mug on right leg curled up beneath ass  men’s fruit of the loom grey t-shirt with ripped collar because it is too high for my neck chimes swing in light

breeze cars in parking lot at Bronson Place too many to count one car south on Percy
turn page gulp tea halfway down mug pull stray hair off lip of mug car south on

Percy another sip wind chimes sway in blue sky sun is bright shadow of plexiglass balcony walls along concrete floor see-through walls streaked with sunlight that shows

the dirt pigeon shit accumulates in corner of balcony turn page balance journal on couch arm small ache in elbow from resting forearm on journal turn head to right

seven cars at Bronson and Somerset intersection glimpse car travelling west
between buildings on Somerset another sip of tea sound of helicopter cars glisten tea is

strong and warm cars east and west on Somerset another sip of tea inside of mug
patchwork of cracks not crazed but deliberate design left curtain end wrapped

around balcony door to handle to stay open on coffee table a quote by Elizabeth Bowen on walking, small pad of paper, glass of water 2/3 full stain of white on rim from my

lips pen that fell turn page notice smell of marker supposed to be unscented another sip
of tea car east on Somerset roof of Bronson Centre has patchy black uneven swatches

on its grey roof and a green painted installation, possibly a door  6 houses west of Rideau Curling Club and a church cars glisten vehicles travel east and west along

highway 417 arm cramped when I try to write at bottom of page I move journal up

Thanks to Brian Oliu for the prompt. While it is the first one that didn’t end up resulting in a poem, I don’t mind that. The process was useful and a good reminder of the necessity of paying attention to external factors. I spend so much time inside my own head, I often don’t notice my body at all or the outside world. I feel nothing and I experience nothing. This is a bad state for a writer or any creator of art to be in.

Play along!

For those of you who are just joining us, 
The Found Poetry Review is celebrating National Poetry Month by offering daily experimental writing prompts from writers. I will be responding to them at poetic whim.


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