The Benefit of a Writing Exercise

On April 6th, 2023, I held a workshop on Poetry.  I presented an exercise where we write a poem about a chore and then come back to it and make it about something more significant. Like the poem about carrying something heavy and really it stands for carrying an emotional burden. It should not have actually worked, but the attendees came through for me beyond what I hoped for.

Two attendees wrote about laundry.  One made it about seeing an abusive relationship through her doing the laundry.  Hiding the evidence that would be found on the clothing.  Another attendee was able to use laundry to talk about anxiety.  Anxiety shown through having to be on top of the laundry. She also talked about how anxiety might look like clothes piling up because anxiety keeps you from doing it.

My own take on the exercise was to write about changing the oil on a car.  When it came to making it stand for some bigger truth, I began writing an image about me underneath my classic car while my brother was under the hood.  Is it a good poem?  Maybe someday. But not yet. Still I was glad to compare how our relationship had accumulated grit over the years like oil does in an engine.

In real life, my brother helped me get my classic car back on the road. Something I am so grateful for.   Forgive the bad analogy here, but this process replaced our dirty, gritty relationship with a new one.  One that was clean and efficient.  One that can not put wear and tear on us, but one that can keep us clean and working well.

The exercise of writing this poem was healing and helped me to savor all that we did together.

Photo by Mu00eddia on

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