A few years ago I did an adult education course in writing. It was a very interesting class. We had all sorts of assignments and we had to read out our compositions. It was rather daunting at first and I felt quite shy and self-conscious about it. On the other hand it was very entertaining to hear the others in the class. One learned a lot about each of the 15 or so contributors. I enjoyed the class very much – it was so sociable and also we received good criticism and tips for improving our writing.
Our teacher was primarily interested in poetry, being a poet herself with several published works. I felt she wanted to turn each of us into poets but still we were allowed to go our own way, up to a point. I was particularly keen to work on my autobiography but she put me down about that. Nevertheless, I continued to work on it. Our first assignment was to write about our earliest memory. Other assignments followed. Eventually we were told to write a poem. I produced the following:
Nantucket, Nantucket, we went to you for memories sake
You did not disappoint us
The boat, the spray, the mist, the emerging outline on the horizon
Summer island of our youth
We walked your cobbled streets
Absorbed your red bricks and your gray shingled cottages
The air of former whaling days
Of widows looking out to sea
Watching for sea-faring husbands never to return
Your sandy beaches, playgrounds for the summer visitors
We were young and carefree, only there to play
Maybe work to earn our keep
But that was quite light-hearted
Waiting table, washing dishes
Cycling to the beach
Dancing at the Upper Deck
Flirting with the fellows
And yet behind it all lay the ghost of Moby Dick
And all that made Nantucket famous
In former days of sail and ambergris
The beloved grey lady of the sea
I was disappointed. My teacher didn’t like it – I never did figure out quite why. She held off for several weeks but eventually she discussed it for the benefit of the class. Her criticism kind of made me squirm. She said it wasn’t actually a poem. Oh well, I was still very happy with it and was complimented on it by each of the other members of the class. We were all quite supportive of each other.
After a couple of years I ran out of things to write about and also did not want to be a poet, nevermind the criticism by my teacher. I still liked her but I decided to do some other class – I think that’s when I switched to doing the Irish class so that was about 4 years ago.
Today Ian and I were having lunch at Airfield, an urban farm near our home. (WordPress is not allowing me to show a link – I’m beginning to think my photo uploading problems are related to this – I will investigate further)
At another table was a group of about 10 talking animatedly. I spotted my former writing teacher and 2 of my former classmates. So after lunch I went over and spoke with them. One of them, Brigid, remembered me as did Margaret, the other classmate. The teacher also kind of remembered me. Brigid could always be counted on for an amusing piece of writing. I particularly remembered her account of a hippie type wedding on a hill near Newgrange, a world famous pre-historic site here in Ireland. Margaret remembered me for a particular item I wrote early on in the class. My piece was about our son James and Susan’s wedding in Seattle in Room 9 of the King County Courthouse on July 1, 2000. Now here we were 9 years later and I could tell my friends that James and Susan had 3 children and we were going to move to Seattle to be nearer them and other members of our family living across the pond.
I said earlier that the writing class was very sociable. Well, the term had actually finished a couple of weeks ago and the group today had just gathered for coffee and a chat. What fun to see them again.