Cooking Time: 8 minutes, 6 seconds
(Classroom Lesson Plan to Serve the Multitudes )
Helping you see your life from all sorts of interesting perspectives.
Being surprised by memories you forgot.
Discovering the memories that are important to you.
Growing writing love.
First part of Eileen Spinelli’s poem, “Memories.”
How some things
The corner of your heart -
Last part of Eileen Spinelli’s poem, “Memories.”
Lie loosely buried
1. Read first lines of Eileen Spinelli’s poem, “Memories.” (See above.)
2. Think to yourself. What are three or four memories that never leave the corner of your heart? Think of moments, objects, places, people, sayings, smells, and songs that might trigger memories.
3. For me, I always remember watching my mom, grandmother, and great grandmother, standing side- by-side eating oranges over the kitchen sink. This is a memory that finds its way into a lot of my writing.
4. Read the last lines of Spinelli’s poem (see above).
5. Read my sample poem. I borrowed Spinelli’s first and last lines to get me started. Plus, I began with the orange memory I mentioned above. Sometimes, using a go to memory is a great way to get yourself started thinking about other memories you might have forgotten.
6. When you read the last section of my sample poem, notice I changed the last lines just a wee bit. I’m sure “honeysuckle years” means something for Spinelli (and I love the sound of the word honeysuckle), but I had to tweak it a bit to make sense for me. I just don’t have honeysuckle memories, but I’d sure love to ask Spinelli what she means by that reference.
How some things
The corner of your heart-
Like watching three women -
Mom, Grandma, and Great Grandma,
All shoulder to shoulder,
Eating oranges over the kitchen sink.
How it felt to fall asleep in the car
On long road trips
With my head against a pillow
Leaning against a cold window
As rough and tumble landscape
Rushed by like a river.
A first kiss that was obligatory
And not at all like I imagined.
Hearing my grandpa come into a room
And yell, “Where’s my Laurie? There’s my Laurie!”
He never spelled my name right,
But that’s OK.
Listening to the soundtrack
Of A Star is Born over and over again.
Singing every Streisand song with a brush microphone
In my best friend’s living room.
Hearing a wolf howl from a Yellowstone ridge,
But feeling it deep in my gut.
Hiking with two girlfriends,
But thinking about my true love
And for the first time,
Understanding how it felt to be content.
Stopping for gas in Mojave,
Buying frozen solid bon bons,
Then, when we were on the road again,
Throwing them out the window,
One by one,
For no reason at all
Except maybe to laugh
And scream with delight.
Like getting to school early
one September morning,
wanting to get to the copy machine
before all the other teachers,
“We’re under attack.”
Lie loosely buried
Under stacks of years,
And months and weeks,
And days and minutes,
Written under the influence of Eileen Spinelli’s poem, “Memories.”
Bolded lines are borrowed from her poem.
Time to Get Cooking
1. Write your Memories poem using the Quick Write Method.
Quick Write means: Write for 8 minutes, 6 seconds without stopping or talking. (Studies show that 8 minutes, 6 seconds is the perfect amount of time for this piece.)
Quick Writes grow writing love because:
a. Writing fast for a short period of time helps you outrun the inner voice that says, “You can’t write. You are bad at this!”
b. Tell yourself, “I don’t have time to listen to that critical voice. I’m gonna go for it!”
Keep pen/pencil/keyboard moving the entire time.
If you get stuck, write I’m stuck I’m stuck I’m stuck until you aren’t anymore. Cross that part out later.
Don’t worry about spelling.
2. You can begin and end with Spinelli’s lines - or tweak them to suit your needs, or ignore them all together and write about memories that always stay with you in whatever way you like.
3. Pro writer tip: Begin with a go-to memory that comes to mind first. Let that memory inspire the next one. This is a fun way to discover surprising and forgotten memories from your life. This is one of the great joys of writing.
4. Pro Tip: Do this recipe over and over again. You'll never write the same one, and it also serves as a list of story ideas that you could develop into longer pieces. Oh la la!
Share Your Words
1. When you are done, read your piece aloud – to a real live human, your dog, or your bathroom mirror. It’s essential to hear your writing aloud. You’ll hear what works. You’ll hear what doesn’t work.
2. If you do read this to a real live human, ask them to tell you a word, phrase, or sentence that stands out to them (this is called SAYBACK ). Don’t ask for or receive advice about revision or editing. Just absorb what someone likes about your writing and say, “Thank you very much.”
3. Select one line you like the best – or one that moves you the most - or one that stands out the most. I call these golden lines. It’s good to notice what you are already doing well as a writer. Often, if you get response from a human, your golden lines might be the same! That’s fun and tells you a lot about what readers think is good writing.
a. I’d even suggest making a collection of all your golden lines in a journal. Over time, you’ll see a pattern of all your writing awesomeness!
Ah, Writers! I hope you write a poem about your memories. I would love to read it and let you know all that is golden about your words.