Teachers Ailsa Steinert and Jay Esty led the students in a daily writing exercise. The idea was to write freely and immediately, editing little and letting ideas hit the page as they came. In one exercise, one line from an Amy Clampitt poem was read, and everyone wrote for a few minutes. They underlined one line from their passage and used that as inspiration to write another. At the end, key lines were taken from each passage to form a whole.
The Clampitt line:
Force, just here, rolls up pomaded into vast blue curls, fit for the sun king. The following are excerpts read on Monhegan by students and teachers:
"The sublime power of the waves corrodes rock into sand, sifting through the toes and fingers of children building drip castles by the water. The undertow carries seaweed away from the shore, as the tide rises, and slowly carries children to the left from where they initially began. An entire generation of children with every option to pursue in the world, but with no reason to do any good. They will grow self-indulgent, vain, and ignorant. They will mistreat, misuse , and abuse the ones they love. Love is blunt. If not, love is deceitful. They will scale mountains to attempt to feel the spiritual force that drives the lost."
The light-dimmed, slippery taffeta.
The kind ferocity that terrifies.
Among the ferns, sheltered and secure,
I told secrets, what I knew of myself.
Questions, afternoons, spoken in silver words,
busy with keeping something I felt.
Sometimes I felt like the echo.
The music of my grandmother's voice.
She stood on the terrace,
her white hair piled on her head in a graceful heap.
Her long dress of chiffon, many-colored, ceremonious.
Her words watched over me.
She carried Paris with her.
How strange that I should marry the city, after all."
In a "home landscape" exercise, the assignment was to write about a particular home terrain. Excerpts follow.
" . . . The ferry honked on the other side of the Saguenay as it proceeded to push aside the trafficked currents while traveling to the ferry landing, where she was waiting inside her . . . overused Honda. She. She was long and lean and, although it didn't look like it, her sun beam strands were store-bought. She wore a Zara's jacket and Seven jeans. She was breathtakingly beautiful, and natural. Natural like the Saint Lawrence, which was layered in fog. Natural like her long, unpolished thin fingers that could barely keep rings on them. She watched the fog roll into the village, completely hiding it as the ocean hides a whale print in seconds. . . ."
" . . . Her breathing is steady and loud in the crisp morning air. She lets out a loud whinny to greet her friend and we circle around the lagging horses, both making threatening motions and noises. Some horses angrily kick out at us, but we retaliate with a smack of the reins and the commanding looks and snorts of my horse. This is my favorite activity of all. We are one, my horse and I. At this moment, we move together, we think together , and we enjoy the thrill and exhilaration of speed together. This is what I love because I can trust my horse. She is sure-footed and smart. . . . Unless she wants me to, my horse will not let me fall off. . . . "
"When considering the carpenter poet
you may feel skeptical but please don't show it.
For after all, what is worse,
a poet-built house, or a carpenter's verse?"
"Nick and I move slowly in our layers, boots and coveralls,
nail guns in hands tethered to the distant compressor
like moon walkers to their landing craft.
The world below us. For on this roof, atop this drumlin,
all the world slopes away to eventual salt marsh.
The world below us is a hard, smooth white,
the ground's textures are skimmed over with ice-covered snow,
an earth troweled flat. . . . "