Flo Oy Wong speaking at an Asian American Women Artists Association meeting. Photo by Mary Gow
When Flo Oy Wong told me about the 1.5 hour workshop “Lay the Foundation of Your Poetry Practice” with Keiko O’Leary at the Sunnyvale Public Library I knew I had to go.
(Flo is an artist, teacher, activist and poet. Among her many accomplishments, she is co-founder of the Asian American Women Artists Association).
The description of the workshop really caught my eye:
Lay the Foundation of Your Poetry Practice
Connect with your own authentic source of poetry, with instructor Keiko O’Leary, and explore a simple method of getting words on the page so you never run out of ideas again! Discover or rediscover this method of getting ideas, avoiding writer’s block, and completing pieces even if you’re not a full-time poet. Non-poetry writers are also welcome!
And reading Keiko O’Leary’s bio inspired me too:
Keiko O’Leary helps people answer the call to create. A trusted editor and beloved writing group facilitator, Keiko’s own creative practice includes poetry, essays, and fiction, as well as calligraphy and book arts. Keiko maintains a voluminous correspondence with students, colleagues, and friends.
Upon arriving Librarian Christina Shen greeted everyone as we got seated. Then she arranged the desks in a circle.
Within a span of 90 minutes we wrote a two short pieces, one from a ten minute exercise, the other a three minute.
Due to the number of attendees we shared our writings within small groups of four. Flo was in my group. I liked her poems so much I asked her if I could share her work here.
She said yes and sent along the poem she wrote in the ten minute exercise. Here it is:
When the Stars Tickled the Sky
By Flo Oy Wong
I remember when the stars tickled the sky and the birds were jealous.
They chirped in loud sounds saying, “No way!” They wanted the stars to tickle them.
But the problem was that the stars only came out at night when the birds were not to be seen.
The birds decided to tackle this problem.
“How can the stars see us if we don’t come out at night?”
“I know,” A bird bellowed.
“We can wear bells on our toes.
Tinkle, tinkle, tinkle. The stars can hear us then.”
Another bird chirped, “No! That is the stupidest idea I have ever heard.
Where are we going to attach the bells?
We’re flapping our wings so fast.
The bells will fall off.”
“Let them fall off,” another bird yelled.
“Then maybe the stars will chase us.
Maybe they will catch up and even tickle us.”
“What a great game,” another bird chortled.
“This will be so much fun.”
“No, no, no,” A yellow-feathered bird flapped.
“We can’t have stars falling from the sky chasing us.
The astronomers are reading the sky at night.
If all the stars chase us the astronomers will not be happy campers.”
“Oh, what should we do then?”
The leader of the birds flapped her wings and put one above her right eye.
She tapped it several times, hoping that another idea would come.
“How about this?” another bird said.
“Why don’t we just stop being afraid of the dark night?
Sure, the coyotes come out at night and might snatch us.
How about painting our bodies red and gluing some glitter on our beaks?”
By Flo Oy Wong
September 7, 2017
Sunnyvale Public Library
“Lay the Foundation of Your Poetry Practice”
with Keiko O’Leary
Thank you to the Christina Shen and the Sunnyvale Public Library for hosting this event with Keiko O’Leary. You can find out more about Keiko at her website and also at Write to the End. More about the library’s events at https://sunnyvale.ca.gov/community/library/default.htm