Sunday, June 22, 2014

Wrap-up for Chautauqua East 2014: What will you wrap up in your radish leaf?

When Larry Rosler, editor of Boyd's Mills Press, asked me to contribute a few words for the wrap-up session Friday afternoon, my busy, obsessive brain went into over-drive. Images popped into my head: holiday gifts wrapped up in beautiful paper; fish 'n chips wrapped up in newspaper; pharaohs wrapped  up in endless yards of crumbling linen; silk moths wrapped up in delicate strands of their own making; Cruella de Vil yearning to be wrapped up in Dalmatian puppy fur; the Christ child wrapped up in swaddling clothes; wrapping a child against the cold; Bob Cratchit's scarf; the Big Game wrap-up of plays and scores; a director shouting, "It's a wrap!" after filming a perfect scene; a swagman's meager possessions wrapped up in a handkerchief tied to a stick; Charlotte dropping swiftly to wrap up a fly entangled in her web . . .

And then oddly, I thought of Chibi, the hero of Taro Yashima's exquisite 1956 Caldecott Honor book, Crow Boy, bringing his simple lunch to school day after day: a rice ball wrapped up in a radish leaf.
(Sorry folks, I remembered it as a cabbage leaf and Amazon wouldn't let me refer to that page to confirm it.)

Over all, the concept means to keep and protect something precious. (With the exception perhaps of of Cruella de Vil!)

A lot happened during our week at The Barn in Honesdale, experiencing the offerings of the faculty of Chautauqua East 2014 (see So I asked those who attended to consider what they would wrap in their radish leaf, what morsels of writing wisdom would they take home to place by their desk? What might sustain them later on their long, sometimes difficult and lonely writing journey? What might help us spin SOME words, SOME HUMBLE words, SOME HUMBLE, RADIANT words? Here's what we came up with:

I started with Patti Gauch's mention in her opening keynote of the concept of Ley Lines which invisibly connect places of inspiration and sanctity, of letting one such line connect us, like Charlotte's silken thread, to this children's writer's haven: The Barn at Honesdale. Here are the others:
Be outrageous
Don't be afraid of breaking rules
Jump with heart into your characters
Find a writing community
Availability--make it understandable
Short, punchy sentences (when appropriate!)
The hero's journey
Discovery of craft and self
Solid core of inner strength
Make time
Try doing the hard part first
Poetry is not impulse, it requires study and craft
Read it aloud
Use concrete images

What's wrapped in your radish leaf?