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Thrills, Chills, and General Silliness (with Weldon Burge)

Infusing Music Into Writing

I attended the 2011 Delaware Regional Writers Conference last month, and one of the workshops I attended was "Infusing Rhythm and Music into Writing and Performance." The workshop leader, Holly Bass, is a writer, poet, performer, and director, and was a founding member of the DC Writers Corps. Although the workshop was geared more toward poets, I was fascinated with the aspect of using music and rhythm in fiction writing.

Holly engaged the workshop participants in a number of group activities aimed at "freeing the voice." She introduced us to hip-hip poetry--first having us read written versions of the poetry, and then having us listen to recordings of the writers performing their own work. Of course, our readings of the poems were vastly different from the "real thing."

As an exercise, Holly asked us to write a poem using sound to provide descriptions. I'm not much of a poet, but here's what I came up with:

Slapping sand, water churns
Surf crashes
Echoes on the undulating dunes
Cries of gulls, swooping birds
Chatter and squawk and scream and talk
Over a sole french fry in the sand
Lightning to the east, electrifying, diving
Thunder rolling, booming, moving, drumming, drumming
The sea is black, angry, locomotive-chugging
Storming the beach

OK, I'm no Sandburg. But, not bad, right?

Thank you, Holly, for an enlightening workshop!

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