By Reggie Marra, MA, ACC
From November 2015 through June 2016 seven “Narrative ‘Tradecraft’” blogs, among diverse other topics on this site, explored Perspective, Imagery, Revision, Metaphor, Diction, Conflict and Rhythm as both elements of writing and tools for living an intentional(ly healing) life. These seven elements first took on their dual literary-intentional living roles in a 1998 workshop, “Writing as Spiritual Practice,” that I developed and taught at the Hudson Valley Writers Center in Sleepy Hollow, NY. They reappeared in 2004 as chapters in the book that slowly emerged from the class, Living Poems, Writing Lives – a revised edition of which is forthcoming in late 2018, and again in 2015 in our course of the same name here at Teleosis.
Six additional elements from the original class and the book have yet to make their respective ways into this blog space: Structure, Punctuation, Line/Sentence (aka Episode), Theme, Texture and Completion. Their time has arrived. Over the next few months, each of them will make a comeback here.
I’ll say more about this sextet later in this blog, but first here’s a quick unpacking of my intention to use the word narrative in a broad sense that includes, but is not limited to:
All of this contributes to my narrative, which may finally manifest in the world as an essay, blog, novel, autobiography, poem, play, song, painting, worldview, belief system, dance, general way of being in the world, some combination of these, or something else entirely. The narrative ‘tradecraft’ elements help construct, and are constructed by, the narrative with varying levels of awareness, intention and meaning – all of which are in the hands, heart, mind, soul and spirit of the narrator.
The book, original workshop and current Teleosis class engage poetry as the narrative vehicle, but these elements – some quite effortlessly, some with a slight tweak (e.g. the line in poetry becomes the sentence in prose or an episode in life) and one with an assertive push (i.e. punctuation, arguably the least cooperative element when asked to morph into an intentional-living tool, becomes a symbol for personality: life punctuated by a period emerges quite differently than life punctuated by a comma, colon or question mark) – work their respective magic beyond the world of poetry as well.
Briefly, Structure, Theme, Texture and Completion, neither featured in a blog yet nor alluded to in the preceding paragraph, can be summarized as follows:
Living Poems, Writing Lives is offered once each year. It serves as a deepening and broadening of the foundational principles in our Narrative Healing class, first by working with the nuts and bolts of poetry writing, and also by introducing that aforementioned “dual role” – applying these literary tools to living a conscious life.
Our next offering begins in October 2017.