Last night, I played a game with some of my poet friends from the Brighton Word Factory — it’s called, “Truth, Dare, or Toast.” One poet asks another to choose one of these three. “Truth” is something from the poet’s experience, where they have to respond to a question like, “Write about your earliest memory,” or “Write about something you don’t want to admit to yourself.” A “Dare” involves the use of form: “Write a song with rhymes and a refrain,” or “Write an Abecedarian (a poem of 26 lines where each line (or sometimes each word) begins with the next letter of the alphabet, running from A to Z).” A “Toast” involves composing a salutation of appreciation or remembrance for something — usually something not normally given such accolades, such as an hourglass or a battery. The poet who is to write chooses one of these, and then the challenging poet specifies the prompt. Once everyone has chosen one of the three and received a prompt, everyone writes for an agreed-on period of time (usually about ten minutes), and the results are shared. It was very playful, demanding in a sports-like way, and interesting both in the process and the result. This is the kind of creative support that we can share with a group of like-minded, open writers. Too often, poets tend to think they have to be in Emily Dickinson mode — writing carefully crafted pieces and then shoving them into a drawer to preserve their profundity. I like to see writing as fun, something to do together to support each other in the process of trying new things and experimenting with new means of expression. Although I am surely an introvert, I have found great benefit in community, in sharing my work with others and sharing, too, the process of working.Recommend0 recommendationsPublished in
As a teacher, Douglas has more than four decades of experience with students ranging in age from 1 to 90, but now works virtually at the Online School of Poetry and with the Lowell Poetry Wheel. As a poet, he has performed in a variety of venues, from Glasgow to Guatemala, but now he’s found primarily on Facebook at the Untitled Open Mic, where he is the co-host for an ongoing Zoom series. He recently finished a doctorate in education, looking at the development of literate identity in young writers, and continues to work with teen poets as an organizer for Freeverse!, Lowell’s youth poetry group. In addition, he has followed a mediation practice for more than forty years and studied in a number of traditions, ranging from early on at the Shree Siddha Peetha in India, later serving as co-director of the Quaker center Woolman Hill in Deerfield, MA, and more recently at the Insight Meditation Center in Barre, MA. He is also a visual artist working in a variety of mediums. Samples of his work, from visuals to videos, can be found at douglasbishoppoet.com.