‘Lock the door, get naked, stand in front of a mirror and write about Exposing Yourself.’
That is probably the most surprising poetry workshop prompt I ever heard.
It came just three weeks into a project that I am participating in online with more than 500 other poets.
Most of them I don’t know, although we are getting to know each other rather well now - having ‘got naked’ together before we had even met, we had no choice but to become acquainted, at least in our virtual nudity.
And now, in week 11 of the 52 week mission, we are all becoming familiar with each other – and with each other’s work. And there is a wonderful and fantastic range of new poetry coming out of this project.
Those of us who are posting our work – and not everyone does – are doing so at first-draft stage and opening ourselves up to criticism and comments. But it is a really generous writing community and it feels safe to post at this early stage.
So, there we all were, in week three of the 52 project getting to know each other in our nakedness on the closed Facebook page where we share and comment on our work.
(It's never too late to join in -- write a poem a week, start now, keep going... check the website --- http://fiftytwopoetry.wordpress.com/
Unless the thought of 500 poets of all ages and body types getting their kit off puts you off, of course.
The ‘get naked’ prompt came in the week I turned 60, so there was a particular resonance for me about being starkers and being honest … in front of 500 'strangers'.
The resulting poem is below (now revised a little from its first 'in the raw' version). I chose the title because I am scared of heights:
Don’t look down
Down there is danger;
where the heart lives,
where blood pumps and flows,
where the womb couches,
where the life stuff happens.
Up here, around the head,
dark blond hides grey,
and steady blue eyes still sparkle
in a face not quite looking its age;
up here, all is well.
Up here, you still hold the picture
of the size 12 hourglass,
the flat stomach,
the small firm breasts;
pert little arse; the thigh gap.
Down there are the scars of a life lived -
there are wrinkles, flab and … much slippage.
Don’t look down,
and don’t turn around;
don’t even try the rear view.
Just turn off the light
and love me in the dark.