If a feeling was a person…finding your truth with Jean ‘Binta’ Breeze

He was in my room, unrolling a

sleeping bag and unpacking his clothes.

I was like a big ship with a gaping hole,

lapping up the sea and growing heavy.

He told me he’d walk hand in hand with me,

over my astroturf of lies,

and linger there like the damp smell

that lingers on towels.

Yesterday I attended a wonderful workshop led by Jean ‘Binta’ Breeze at the Roundhouse, organised by IdeasTap. Like most workshops, attendees were prompted to write a complete poem in an impossible timeframe. Well – not impossible, but daunting as most writers spend most of the time set to ‘Pre-occupied’.

Jean was an inspiring coach, reeling off poems and witticisms. She stressed that you have to write as much as possible, then read your work out loud, and learn what to scrap and what’s potential gold. She favoured the term ‘Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater’.

We were instructed to focus on approaching poems like a portrait: to frame a sense of time and place and then fill it in with colours, smells and sounds. After brainstorming different feelings we could write a poem about (everything from awe to lust to misery to grief  and longing appeared – we were, predictably, a morose bunch), Jean set us the task of writing about the chosen feeling. The challenge was to start with 5 sentences. Each sentence had to describe the feeling a if it were a concrete sight, sound, touch, smell and taste. Then there was a bonus question:

“If you walked into a room and the feeling was a person, what would it be doing?”

The exercise would help find the language we needed to describe what Jean called our ‘truth’. Our associations with the feelings and various senses would equip us to prop up the bridge between our thoughts and the page.

The poem above is the result. The feeling was ‘Guilt’

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