Claire Sheridan and Kimberly Lee offered a session on May 4.
A veteran of the criminal justice system, Claire Sheridan has worked with crime victims and offenders from coast to coast. She rediscovered her love of creative writing through an Amherst Writers & Artist’s group, and now facilitates workshops regularly. Whenever possible, Claire prefers being outdoors. She’s a nomadic yogi who enjoys long road trips, a certified yoga instructor, a hiker, a mountain biker, a swimmer, and an anything-involving-sunshine person.
Kimberly Lee left the practice of law to focus on motherhood, community work, and creative pursuits. She is certified by Amherst Writers & Artists and is a Journal to the Self® instructor, a SoulCollage® facilitator, and a student of Intentional Creativity. Kimberly is an editor and contributor at Literary Mama, and a teaching artist with several writing centers. Her work has appeared in Fresh Ink, Words and Whispers, Toyon, and elsewhere.
Together, they facilitated “Using the Body to Write” for Write Around the World. One prompt was an invitation to explore speaking to the body through letter-writing. Below are some pieces generated by that exercise. For more information about future workshops, including those with emphasis on the physical body, please visit the facilitators’ websites: Kimberly Lee https://www.kimberlylee.me/ and Claire Sheridan www.writethroughthedoor.com.
Dear Heels by Nicole R. Zimmerman
Oh, I hear you aching at day’s end and complaining when you start your morning,
hauling this body out of bed. I try to support you the way you support me, but the reality
is it’s you who does the heavy lifting. I’m so grateful to you for allowing me to stand,
to dance, to walk, to kneel over garden beds full of weeds. Without your sturdy base
I’d have no mobility; I’d lose my ability to move through the world unassisted. I know
I’ve ignored you like a pair of pants that need mending at the seams. Like my hips
you keep widening, flattening, with years of use. Yes, I am guilty of not attending
enough to your needs. Here, let me help you — come, lift yourself onto my knee
and rest so that I can rub some cream into your cracked skin, massage the stiffness
radiating from the arch, cup my palm to your face, the one hardly anyone sees at the
bottom of me, so that I may soothe your nerves and you can go on setting one foot
in front of the other or stand sturdy while I press these hands to my heart center in
salutation, praying for the woes of the world to ease just like the pain in these feet.
In Defense of The One We Are With by Matthew Curlewis
Hey! Hey You! No Elbow, not you. Just because you’re always flapping about, doesn’t mean that we’re all wanting to talk to you – you simply happen to be in the way of a lot of cross-communication. No, I’m aiming further in and… higher up. And no Nipple, not you either. Just because everyone’s always grabbing you doesn’t mean – well yes, your issue is sortof similar to Elbow’s now you mention it – yes, you also (often!) beguile and distract and send messages in all kinds of unintended directions – but no I’m reaching higher still. Nose! Thank you for acknowledging me – and in time for once, instead of too late! Usually you only pay me the courtesy of attention once I’m stinking to high… altitudes, shall we say? H_____ forbid we should offend any believers. Or non-believers. Or born-again, post, recovering – you catch my drift I think. Nice to see you Nose but sorry, I have loftier ambitions.
Oh! Finally I see you fluttering! Both of you! Gosh I love it when you flutter. It’s so dreamy and romantic and sensual. Who could possibly hate or go to war when faced with such fluttering?
Okay, I’ll cut the crap. I was only flattering you to get your attention. But actually, your fluttering’s not fine – it’s faulty at best. You need to work harder! Add some filtering to your fluttering, for goodness sake. It’s the new millennium you geniuses! Have you heard of climate change? The air is full of dust. But because you’re failing to do your job, The One We Are With is constantly running into things and stubbing her toe and that’s me! Take a long hard look! I’m black and blue with bruises and it’s all your fault!
Can we please ALL just work together, to protect The One We Are With?!
Dear Body by Claire Sheridan
Oh, Dear Body,
Who knew there were so many things that could go wrong? When I look at you, I see me, but, really, dear body, you are a complex being all of your own and I am merely the interloper among your cells. I had no idea how hard you were working to maintain us, until you started to struggle. I took you for granted, thinking my hours at the gym were for you, when those were really for the benefit of the ego. You tried to warn me with that twinge in our left knee, but I took no heed.
After all your struggles to simply breathe, I still failed to understand, failed to appreciate the complexity. I thought I could keep pushing until that knee thing, but even that wasn’t enough. I’m sorry I made you blow out the other knee altogether before I took notice. Then I did so in the worst way. I let Ivan the Butcher cut, slice, dice, and generally denigrate your physical form—and for what? So I could be one of the cool kids too?
Honestly body, I’m not entirely sure that I deserve you, and I know for certain—from that incident with our right knee—that you deserve a better steward than me as your keeper. But we work with what we get, and I imagine you had no more choice in the matter than I did about who inhabited you.
I want to love us—both of us, but it seems something gets in the way. Is it Brain’s fault? Is he part of you, or part of me, or another third entity all on his own?
How about Heart? Does Heart beat for you or me? Is she getting in the way of our love affair?
It seems you love me unconditionally because you keep showing up everywhere I am. Either you love me or you are stalking me—perhaps I should talk to someone about that if you are stalking, or perhaps you should talk to someone if you’re a groupie whose love is unrequited by me. Am I the lead singer of the band and you the backup?
How do we come to a mutual understanding? How can I better serve your needs and help you be better to me? Is your pain the same as mine? I wish you could tell me in words I understand instead of feelings I cannot process.
We are a team—or are we?
Thank you for joining us for Write Around the World!
For the rest of the summer, watch our blog! We are sharing writing from AWA’s yearly marathon fundraiser, which happened this year all-online throughout the month of May.
We offer this series in appreciation for the incredible community of writers and workshop leaders that sustain us. If you’re inspired and would like to be part of the fundraiser, please donate!