The amazing Natasha Marin, whose poetry I shared with you recently in the latest 'I Wish I'd Written This', thinks outside the box and seeks to make the traditionally solitary exercise of writing poetry a communal experience.
One way she does this is via a project called Red Lineage, in which the word 'red' signifies blood, and bloodline – our commonality, in fact. In this project we may all assert, in a poem (a short one with a particular, powerful and resonant formula) what we perceive about our own heritage, and those things about it which we regard as important.
This is where our thoughts can be provoked today, in exploring what we find and how to say it.
Heck, go and have a look at what Natasha and others have done already!
First, here is her original poem:
My name is Redbone.
My mother's name is Staunch Red.
My father's name is Red-eye Red.
I come from a people known for flagrance & survival.
It appears at her website here, along with a succinct explanation of the interactive project – and do look, too, at all three of the wonderful videos on the same page, from a Red Lineage workshop. Then please also listen to the audios of that workshop, here, which provide a different experience again.
I defy you not to want to join in! And you can. Indeed, you are encouraged to do so. In answer to my request to share her project with you, Natasha Marin writes:
'Yes, feel free to teach/share the Red Lineage with anyone you'd like. My only request is that you enter them in the official Red Lineage database (or forward electronic copies to me to enter).'
Isn't she generous? And her request makes sense, in keeping with the community spirit of the project. To add your own, click this link, then find the drop-down menu at 'Explore' and select +Add Your Lineage. The lines are already there and you just need to fill in the words specific to you.
Because they are short, you may also record your poems in the Comments below, so we United Poets can all read each other's – and please do. (Of course you may post them at your own blogs too, if you wish – with this link to the original project: http://www.natasha-marin.com/red-lineage)
It would be great if you record them at the database yourselves, but if you have trouble doing so, please let me know in your Comment and I'll either do it for you or send them to her. (I already did my own, when I first discovered Red Lineage.)
This writing cannot be done without thinking deeply about our personal heritage – which I found quite a lovely thing to do. For some, perhaps, it may be more confronting than lovely, but I don't doubt it will be worthwhile. Also you can use the exercise to assert a heritage not only of your own truth but also of your own choice.
Incidentally, you don't have to make your own name the way she makes hers (though I did). You may put the 'Red' last, like a surname, for yourself as well as for your parents.
Theoretically one could write many such poems, since people have more than one defining characteristic. But I gather she wants only one from each person entered into the database, so go deep, please, and get to the essence! When I did that, I surprised myself by what I found and wanted to say. And yet it didn't take long. The deep truths, deeply known, may be well within reach.
And what do these pictures of roses have to do with it? As some of you know, I post roses daily on facebook, with good wishes for everyone – and people respond with delight, and tell me they look for them each day. From starting as a nice idea, this has become an important commitment and self-expression.
And so, here is my Red Lineage poem:
My name is Redrose.
My mother's name is Soft Red.
My father's name is Lively Red.
I come from a people known for loving words.
(The ambiguity in the second-last line is intentional.)
Checking the link again for this post, I see she has added another space, for 'After I go ...' and we now get a second space to describe the people we come from – so perhaps I'll return and fill that in too. After all, there is nothing to stop anyone from participating more than once.
So, to recap, please share your lineage poem at Natasha's site, and also post it in the comments here (and at your blog too if you wish, with a link back to the site). If you can't do it at the site, tell me and I will.
Material shared in 'Thought Provokers' is presented for study and review. Poems, photos and other writings remain the property of the copyright owners, usually their authors. (The photos used in this post are mine.)