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Words and Movement Workshop - Abena Beloved Green

Abena Beloved Green is the author of The Way We Hold On.

Abena hosted a Writing Workshop weekend at Retreat Zen last weekend.

She created an incredible mental environment for her writers, taking them through activities that opened up their imaginations, step-by-step.

From possibility to idea to development to confidence, the writers walked the path of creative exploration, hand-in-hand with their imaginations.

One of the last activities of the weekend involved using a prompt from someone else's writing. Abena chose a piece from Mary Oliver called "The Journey."

Mary Oliver was an American poet born in 1935 and a Pulitzer prize winner. Some considered her a trusted "guide to the natural world." Others have compared her importance to Ralph W. Emerson.

"The Journey" begins with these two lines:

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,

Many writers come to face this moment, this moment of beginning. When Abena presented this activity, my mind went to those first moments I decided I was going to write a book, and the changes my own writing went through in taking up that decision in a serious way.

She gave everyone a few minutes to put something together. When we were ready, each person shared what we did with Mary Oliver's first lines.

This is what came to me (with some edits, I can't stop myself):

One day you finally knew

what you had to do, and began,

and it was terrible,

uncomfortable, awful!

Not fair.

But where else does it begin?

Just begin, now.

Stumble upward, forward,

slouching towards better,

putting in time,

burning the dead.

Pressure and time

turns old life

into radiance, diamonds,

crystallizing tones and

more true direction.

Maybe it is time you did some writing. Where would May Oliver's first two lines take you? Breathe a moment and then work with the words.

Let something out. And please share.

See where this might take you.


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