I have been taking part in a writer’s group in Silver City (via Zoom) for a few months now. I often am not able to zoom in on the weekly meetings, but I am continually inspired by the prompts sent out by Silver City Poet Laureate Eve West Bessier and find that writing to her prompts is inspiring and keeps my mind working in new ways. I also love being part of a group I would never otherwise be able to participate in.
I am charmed in a way by these days where even though the lack of in-person face-to-face exchanges is crazy-making, the opportunities to touch the world are virtually limitless. We can take part in concerts, take art classes, have intimate conversations with people we never dreamed would respond to us, listen to readings and participate in meetings that are meaningful to us, even if they are far away. Creatively and politically the world has expanded while the place where our bodies reside and move about has narrowed. No, don’t worry about the Matrix yet.
Anyway, a few weeks ago Bessier posted the following prompt:
“As a young adult, a childhood friend of mine was visiting me in San Francisco from my native country, Holland. As we drove around downtown SF, we spotted a black, high-heeled pump lying in the middle of the street. No matching second shoe. My friend said, ‘Dat kompt vreemdt over!’ Loose translation: ‘That's just plain weird!’
“See what you can do with the solo shoe in the road phenomenon, which I've experienced many, many times over the years, including just yesterday with a pink tennis shoe in the middle of Little Walnut!”
What a cascade this prompt caused in my mind! So many different directions it could travel. That single shoe, that single idea, and a plethora of directions. But more than that, it reminded me of all the little wierdsies (a phrase stolen from the Judge John Hodgeman podcast) in the world that are lost to our perception.
The nature of people is to let things they don’t understand slip by the peripheral vision of their brains. Ghosts and shadows slide away without notice if they are not immediately understood and recognized. You would think that the strange would grab your attention and focus, but often the opposite is true. It slips by unless something forces it back into attention. You can test this and see if I am right. In the midst of a conversation, throw in something completely off the wall, then continue talking about whatever it was you were talking about. Whoever you are talking to, will probably let it pass without even a blink.
So, perhaps it is the job of the writer – poet, novelist, journalist, essayist – to bring out those single shoes that slip past our world. They need to nudge the reader into the shadows a little to examine what might have otherwise been missed, passed by and diminished.
The Desert Exposure writing contest deadline for entries is Aug. 15, visit the ad on Page 9 for details as to how to enter. Pull out those stories, poems and prose pieces that might have nudged you once and send them in. As long as they relate to our part of the world, they are eligible for publication and prizes.
Contact Bessier at email@example.com if you are interested in the Munching Words Brunch Writing Group and live in Grant County. Visit the Southwest Festival of the Written Word website at swwordfiesta.org for some great writers and discoveries. The Silver City Poet Laureate program is partially sponsored by the festival.
Elva K. Österreich is editor of Desert Exposure and would love to meet Desert Exposure readers in Silver City, by phone or by email. Please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or by cell phone at 575-443-4408 to set a place and time to meet.