Poetry Inspired by the Capitol
On the 14th of January 2021 I had the opportunity to participate in the Concrete Dreams poetry and art workshop on Zoom. The workshop engages the public to create art and poetry which will be part of the public art project Concrete Dreams, to be installed in May 2021 in Washington DC at the exterior of the DC Art Center.
The workshop was co-facilitated by Monica Jahan Bose and Maps Glover and had around 18 participants including an ASL sign-language interpreter. We started off the workshop with five-minutes of meditation called EFT (Emotional Freedom Therapy), led by Mya, one of the workshop participants. The therapy aims to release emotional blockages within the body’s energy system. We started off by taking a 3 part breath whilst tapping around our face, the tapping helped me feel more relaxed and helped clear my mind. We then moved on to taking breaths through the stomach whilst tapping our hearts – this brought my attention to my heart and helped me focus on my feelings. After that we thought about our happy places – I thought about finally being able to see my grandparents again once they received the vaccine – this made me feel thankful that they are still happy and healthy as well as optimistic that soon the pandemic will come to an end. To end the meditation, we took a large inhale before unclenching and letting everything out, and finally we hugged ourselves and were reminded to be positive and thankful. This meditation helped me fell more refreshed and go into the rest of the workshop feeling invigorated.
After the meditations, we went round the group of participants and introduced ourselves as well as saying one word we were feeling at the time, those words were: anticipation, grateful, blessed, happy, anxious, safety, creative, joyful, exited, relaxed, calm, resilient, evolve, revolutionary and optimistic.
Next, Maps Glover took us through some examples of concrete poetry. It was interesting to see how all the different writers embodied their poems through different shapes as well as seeing all the creative shapes drawn in the different poems. My personal favourite was the poem in the shape of a fire, as I liked how the writer used symbols as well as words to create a more intricate shape of a fire.
We were given the prompt of thinking about the U.S. Capitol building and a simple drawing of it and asked to write words using our feelings about the building, democracy, our place within our government, and recent white supremacist violence at the building. Everyone then began to brainstorm words – and we listened to one of Monica’s songs as well as some Herbie Hancock. We spent time writing our poems and transcribing them onto the shape of the Capitol building. Once everyone had written their poems, many people shared them to the group. Everyone had really interesting and creative ideas and I loved listening to them all.
Nella Hoogeboom, London, U.K., 14 January, 2021