Over the weekend I participated in a creative workshop in honor of Yom Hashoah , otherwise known as Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day. Yom Hashoah begins at sunset on the 27th day of the Jewish month of Nisan and ends the following evening. So Sunday afternoon found me and five other women gathered together in a church basement to talk about remembrance, play with poetry, and paint prayer flags.
It was a great experience and not only because I got to help plan it (my part was small, it was The Poet who did most of the work!). An added bonus was that the part of me that likes layers loves the idea of a such a diverse group of women (white, black, gay, straight, American, immigrant, Northern, Southern) gathering together to share lunch in the basement of a UCC church while discussing, writing poetry and creating images on Buddhist inspired prayer flags, all in remembrance of the Shoah. That is multi-culturalism at its best.
It was also a great experience because writing has traditionally been a pretty solitary endeavor for me. As much as I love to write, I only ever took one elective writing course in college, so the format of such a workshop was relatively new to me. Frankly, the idea always scared me a little bit at the same time as it intrigued me. I've often toyed with taking some writing classes or joining a writer's group, but retreated from the idea out of nervousness that I'd be that person whose output was the literary equivalent of a Hallmark card, that person who didn't really belong there. Sure, it might be good for me to see that such thoughts are just my considerable crazy talking, but what if I went and everyone laughed at my words, confirming my long held suspicions that I actually suck?
The thing is, I think I'm actually a closer to being willing to take that risk. Once I was at this workshop, worrying about the quality of what I was writing was the furthest thing from my mind. The atmosphere was so safe and the exercises structured in such a comfortable way that it wasn't an issue. It was empowering to find it was much more about process and about creating in community than about scary emotio-creative nakedness. It was an invaluable experience. I'm not going to lie and say that I'm ready to post the poem that I wrote there (or any other of my other stabs at poetry) for public consumption outside of that very safe zone, but it was a good step in the right direction.