Bartlett Arboretum Writers Marathon 2

This is a continuation of a previous post about our Writers Marathon.  The following excerpt comes from Misty Maynord, proprietress of the Kechi Playhouse:

            All the nooks and crannies, the gravel paths, the brick walk ways, the twisted wire fences with their quaint old fashioned gates speak of a world that is slipping away from us. Stepping into the Bartlett Arboretum is like taking a step back into another time when everything was not mass produced with an eye towards expediency and convenience. A time when people cooked real food in real ovens and not frozen microwave bricks. A time when listening to music was an act of communion rather than a solo experience through ear plugs. A time when parents were not afraid to let their children play outdoors all day, when neighbors knew neighbors, when there was not a T.V. hanging on the wall in every public place impinging on conversation.

 There is no doubt that modern times have brought many marvels, but they have arrived at a cost. Everything now seems antiseptic, lacking the charm of uniqueness. But here at the botanical gardens in Belle Plaine the past still lives. The tree house just inside the gate reeks of romance, but I have become so indoctrinated to current trends that I find myself thinking “ . . . it doesn’t have the OSHA approved standard grid to keep people from falling,” and that is just the point. People used to be expected to develop common sense, to be aware and alert, to have a sense of preservation without government standards doing all the thinking for everyone.

Perhaps that is one reason why common sense does not seem all that common now days. Perhaps that is why imagination appears to be less prevalent. It has occurred to me that while the old radio shows encouraged listeners to visualize the story unfolding over the airwaves, T.V. completely robs viewers of that same experience. Attention spans are shorter; seven second sound bites keep us engaged with mind candy and prevent the ability for true engagement with a puzzle, project, or problem.

 The sound of wind and birdsong in the Arboretum is magical. Natural quietness is becoming rare. I once heard the poet Nikki Giovanni say to a group of college students, “I can drive you all crazy – all I have to do is put you in a quiet room. None of you would know how to react to it.” I wonder if she isn’t right.


Bartlett Arboretum Writers Marathon 1


I had the honor and privilege of participating in a writing marathon this last Thursday.  The weather was brilliant and cool due to a recent storm, and the trees were absolutely gorgeous.  A classic writing marathon brings people together, has them writing in spurts, and then with no critiquing or judging, writers share whatever their pens created.

 The Bartlett Arboretum is a little piece of heaven right in the middle of Belle Plaine.  If you get the opportunity to participate in an activity at this private garden, be it a concert or a mosaic workshop, I highly recommend it.  Words do not do justice to the serenity that can be found there.

 All of the writers on Thursday were a part of the National Writing Project.  We followed a similar model to the New Orleans Writing Marathon :


 10 minutes of continuous writing (actually, all ‘writing time’ is meant to be continuous)
Writers share
15 min write
Writers share
20 min write
Writers share
25 (or sometimes 30 min) write
Writers share

 For me, the ambience of the place really lends itself to the quality of the experience.  Between writing spurts, we hiked to different areas of the Arboretum.  I must admit that some of the time, I allowed the wind to lull me into a more meditative state.

 I feel especially privileged that several of the writers have agreed to share their work from that day here.  Please keep in mind that we didn’t do much in the way of editing.  One participant described our journals as diamond mines where treasure would be found LATER.  We were to ignore our internal editors!  So my sample below follows the very stream-of-consciousness that I experienced during the 15 minute stretch.

April’s Sample

The water grounds us, feeds us, winding through, the ripples mirror the new lines of my face, discovered just this morning as I hovered over the glob of toothpaste sliding down the sink.  There is a white bridge, and although I know where it leads, I imagine a different way forward, a different outcome.

I did not know I could be friends with trees, that I would want to be friends, that they might whisper to me of god and Holy and last night’s rain.

The strangers are friendly and welcome me and I do not know their names; and I hurt to call them less than they are, that orange flower, so inadequate.