To encourage descriptive thinking, Paulann Peterson, Oregon’s Poet Laureate, led a group of students, staff and Salem residents in a poetry writing workshop Sept. 10.
Peterson spoke softly, presenting possible scenarios as the group silently jotted down their responses to her suggestions.
Her “sense” suggestions led the prospective poets to consider a time when they were ill or injured: what the surroundings were, what sounds they heard, what they felt and what they smelled.
“Touch is more than feeling with your fingers,” Peterson explained, noting the breeze stirred up by a fan as an aspect of “touch.”
One of those present was Professor of Humanities Jim Hills, whose poem, inspired by the workshop, is here:
This is to praise
two gray doves
modest in dress and voice
sounding like a breeze
in a bottle’s green mouth;
and the salmon dark-backed as a log in the rain
shooting away from my canoe,
losing himself in the shimmer
of sun on river stones;
and the cherries I bought for my wife
and me at a stand beside a quiet road
on Orcas Island, and the farmer
who knew I would leave
money in the wooden box;
and August corn, too hot to hold, shining
with bright butter on a sky blue plate;
and Orion, bow drawn,
hunting in the tops
of the great firs.
Elizabeth, in Jakarta,
I’m singing this for you.