Sam Sax, two-time Bay Area Grand Slam Champion and winner of countless other awards and accolades, gave a truly phenomenal poetry workshop in Ms. Lloyd's creative writing class. He spoke about the importance of finding your poetic voice...
...by reading poets that came before you and engaging in a deliberate dialog with the authors you are drawn to. His exercise for the class centered on doing just that.
He talked about how the poet Sharon Olds wrote odes--a direct reference to Pablo Neruda's collections of poems, Ode to Common Things. He read a quote from Olds: "I don't have a great imagination, I just really pay attention." In that spirit, he then had the class pick a random object in the room and do an eight-minute writing exercise in which they simply tried to describe the object as best they could. The results were remarkable.
He then spoke about the power of language-- its ability to transform, cross borders, and to capture the interior of the human spirit. He ended the workshop by saying, "The more you study poetry the more strange, unknown and magical it becomes. You [students] are en route to something no one understands."