IMPROMPTU #40: Ceremony


ceremony doesn’t change you
the old woman said
you change you

is just the trail
you learn to follow
until you reach the place
where that can happen

I became an Indian after that

- Richard Wagamese


Today's prompt, prompt #40, is "ceremony". 

Free and open to any interpretation. Inspired by this poem by the late great Richard Wagamese. 

I talked a bit about Richard Wagamese in IMPROMPTU #1. He is one of my greatest inspirations, and I give him credit for changing the way I think about writing. In a workshop that I took with him two years ago, he said, "writing is not struggling." He talked about how when we first took charge of language, we were spontaneous people, telling stories around the fire. Children, when they acquire language, see wide open opportunity — they tell stories freely and spontaneously. They roll with that energy. And then, eventually, other people's judgement narrows it. He talked about how, as storytellers, we need to try to capture that energy, to go to it, to remove doubt, to say yes to our ideas. This is no easy task, and it is something I have by no means even come close to mastering. But it is something I keep in the back of my mind when I'm writing, something that helps me to change my perspective, even slightly, when I start to struggle. Richard's voice telling me to say YES to my ideas.

I owe him a million thanks. And I will always remember how he reacted when I told him I was from Kenora, Ontario, his first hometown. I will always remember him telling me he was "my friend from Kenora." Richard, you will never be forgotten.

We're Back!

Hi! We're back! With two exciting announcements.

The first is that on Wednesday I found out I won the 2017 Young Buck Poetry Prize through the literary journal Contemporary Verse 2 for my poem "Crystals"! This poem will be published in CV2's summer issue. 

The second is that IMPROMPTU Instagram is officially launched! I hope you'll follow along, @impromptuprompts. As of today, all of the posts are up to date, and curated in conjunction with this blog. Tomorrow is IMPROMPTU #40 and we will be starting fresh. 

I started this blog because I personally love writing from prompts. Writing from prompts helps me to be more improvisational in my writing practice, to follow the spirit of the moment, to generate material. In the very first IMPROMPTU blog post, I talked about how in music, an "impromptu" is a free form, improv-style composition. I think this term can be applied to writing too, to describe the energy of the free write, the first draft, what happens when you say YES to your ideas. I hope that @impromptuprompts will become a place where folks can share their impromptus (pieces inspired by IMPROMPTU prompts), and I do hope to share some snippets of my own impromptus, my own writing. 

I also love coming up with prompts and exercises that I think will inspire other writers. Over these past couple of months, I've loved receiving feedback from fellow writers and friends saying that they've been enjoying my posts, that they've created something from one of my prompts, that my prompts have helped them to reconnect with their writing practice. This is all I ever could have asked for from this blog. I hope that this community will continue to grow, that folks will continue to be inspired, and continue to share with me. 

Join me over here, @impromptuprompts. 

Much love and light to you, writers! Let's do this.