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Don't tell me again

Alaska's Fiddling Poet in Trinity

Monday, October 2, 2017 1:15 PM Edited: Monday, October 2, 2017 1:30 PM

The Poets & Writers grant made the decision to hold the Ken Waldman Creative Writing Workshop and Performance easy, especially as a part of the scheduled Artists in Action Festival, Sept. 16.  But as the wild fire raged and smoke choked the spirits of Trinity residents, Artists in Action Festival was cancelled for the day. 

Alaska’s Fiddling Poet, Ken Waldman drove down from Alaska to Washington, Oregon and Crescent City as part of an 11 week tour.   The engagement at TAHA House in Weaverville went forward in hopes that our “Write Your Life” and “Poetry” groups would value this experience.  16 people joined the workshop.  Ken lead us through several series of inventive and clever prompts that juiced each person’s creativity.   He used his fiddle to generate a wide variety of sounds from the tap-tap-tap of a woodpecker to the screech of a nail being pried from dry wood.  The responses to the 11 prompts were strung together with a preamble for each phrase creating a thoughtful prose.


Jil Chipman’s exercise was very evocative when adding the preamble, “Love is . . “

love is repetitive plucking on a muted violin string

love taps the instrument with the end of the bow

love is schreeching of the bow drawn painfully slowly

love is the pulsing note

love is six alternating notes now as his lips move

love is bouncing down a minor scale

love is down down, then "pow!"

love is wood on wood, love is two quick notes

love holds the strings and grinds the bow

love promises a twist and plays repetitive notes

love leaves the room and brings back a book.

And, just that simply, without the struggle to produce a finished masterpiece, creativity is nurtured.

The performance was entertaining as Ken read stories and poetry derived from his life in remote parts of Alaska salted with music that was inspired by those experiences.

The Trinity County Arts Council strives to partner with organizations who wish to share art with the community.  So often we stay home because we think that the event will not be interesting.  If it means dressing for prime time, it is too much trouble.  I learned several methods to discover that elusive word that can describe my thoughts.  I was reminded of the pleasure and comfort of being with our arts community.  I was reminded that Literary ART is ART.