Sparking Together

Hello Spark friends!

The 2020 global pandemic has most of us at home — a LOT. Maybe you’re creating; maybe you’re not. Maybe you’d like a creative spark to get you going.

The poet Kate Gray created Writing Together phone calls that were a wonderful way to connect and write each morning. In May 2020, she ended those calls, and a group of us picked up where she left off.

During the month of May, people called in at 9 a.m. Pacific time and joined a group of writers and artists from around the country. After an introduction given by the leader (schedule below), the group received a prompt and had 20 minutes to write, draw, dance, sing, sculpt, scream, or just sit and think. Prompts, poems read, and information on each call’s leader are included below.

Monday: Anya Mayer

Tuesday: Amy Souza

Wednesday: Terri Grayum

Thursday: Amy Souza

Friday: Anya Mayer

Saturday: Terri Grayum

No calls on Sunday.


What to expect from each leader:

Anya Mayer: Meditation leading to a prompt; poetry read at end.

Amy Souza: Variety! More directed exercises, occasional guest voices. Poetry or story read at end.

Terri Grayum: Meditation leading to a prompt, often coming from song lyrics. Poetry read or song sung at end.

Questions? Send me a note!



Participating in the calls?

We’d love to see your work! There are a number of ways you can share it:

Share on your Twitter or Instagram page with the following hashtags: #sparkingtogether #getsparked #writingtogether #sparktogether.

Send to us so we can share on the Spark Facebook page. (Be sure to indicate that it’s OK to share your work.)

Post on Amy’s Twitter feed as a response to that day’s prompt.



May 1: “In my dreams….”

Poem read at end: “In Praise of Dreams,” by Wislawa Szymborska.

Leader: Amy Souza

May 4: Dealing with expectations: “Practice being present with what is” (Pulled from Soul Support cards by artist Deb Koffman)

Today’s Sparking Together call had technical difficulties, which led to a prompt about expectations: Let them go, investigate them, create despite them. Amy pulled a card from artist Deb Koffman’s Soul Support deck and read from Trust the Process by Shaun McNiff. Thank you to everyone who stuck with the call and didn’t let the technical troubles stop them.

Leader: Amy Souza

May 5: How do you engage with your senses?

Poem read at end: “Sleeping in the Forest” by Mary Oliver.

Today’s Sparking Together call was led by Anya, who started with a meditation on feeling the support underneath you, going inward, connecting with the breath, and sending your imaginary roots down deep into the earth. Feedback included that the audio on the call was not clear although the recording sounds fine and is available for anyone who would like to listen and do their creativity practice independently.

Leader: Anya Mayer

May 6: “Don’t run from the comin’ storm” (Line from “Storm Comin'” by the Wailin’ Jenneys.)

Leader: Terri Grayum

May 7: Spend 5 minutes observing something close by, macro or micro: the neighborhood out your window or room where you’re sitting; an object, person, animal, or plant. Make a list of what you see, smell, hear, taste, or touch. After 5 minutes, review your list and use it to prompt further writing or art. Observe yourself. How did you feel while making your initial list? What bodily sensations did you experience? What memories came up for you?

Poem read at end: “The Lily,” by Mary Oliver, from her book, Why I Wake Early.

Leader: Amy Souza

May 8: Worry and acceptance.

Today’s Sparking Together call was started by a meditation on noticing three things you can see, three things you hear around you, and three sensations you can feel in your body.

Poem read at end: “I Worried,” by Mary Oliver.

Leader: Anya Mayer

May 9: “No matter what I’m doing, I should certainly be doing something else…” taken from the song “Unworthy”Cheryl Wheeler.

Leader: Terri Grayum

May 11: “I am a guest here.”

Leader: Anya Mayer

May 12: “How to get under my skin.”

Author Jenny Forrester had us write or draw in a contained space — small sticky note or square drawn in our notebooks. — using the prompt, “How to get under my skin.” (Borrowed from Mindy Nettifee‘s poem by the same name. See comments for her website.)

Small, contained spaces can focus our work or provide space to purge junk or allow us to write one sentence at a time // draw a few lines at a time — great for when you feel like you can’t do a damn thing. Start small. Keep going.

Find the recording here.

May 13: “Build your nest.”

Poem read at end: “Nest Filled,” by Kim Stafford.

Terri shared why she chose this poem: Since the lockdown we’ve been watching a pair of bushtits build their intricate nest right outside our bedroom window; I’ve thought of it as a metaphor for hope (a la Emily Dickinson), patience, and persistence, much needed in this pandemic time. We were rewarded when I saw the female bring a fat green worm to the nest yesterday. (We won’t see the babies until they fledge; the nest is a long tube-like structure and they are at the bottom until fledge time.)

Leader: Terri Grayum

May 14: “Where you find yourself.”

Additional constraints were added. Amy read passages from The Book of Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa and asked participants to choose four or five words that struck them and then use the prompt and the chosen words in their art, writing, or movement practice. Listen here.

Poem read at end:“Self-Portrait on the Street of an Unnamed Foreign City,”by Jennifer Grotz.

Leader: Amy Souza

May 15: “What moves me.”

Poem read at end: “Dancer” By A. Bentley.

Leader: Anya Mayer

May 16: “In the little picture.”

Poem read at end: “The Big Picture” — a new poem by Kim Stafford, available on his Facebook page.

Leader: Terri Grayum

May 18: “What I hunger for.”

Poem read at end: “Learning Again to Hunger,” by Leila Chatti.

Leader: Anya Mayer.

May 19: “Yes, no, maybe.”

Poem read at end:“Six Words,” by Lloyd Schwartz.

Leader: Amy Souza

May 20: “Before anybody said so.”

Leader: Terri Grayum

May 21: “Around the bend.”

Poem read at end: “Path,” by Daniel G. Hoffman.

Leader: Amy Souza

May 22: “How do I know I’m asleep?”

Poem read at end: “Falling Asleep,” by Paul Cantrell.

Leader: Anya Mayer

May 25: “A cherished memory.”

Meditation: Find a place of stillness & space
Notice where hands are resting, move if needed to a part of the body like belly, heart or neck
Recognize that your creativity comes from you & from beyond you

Poem read at end: “My Friend,” by Kiesha Shepard

Leader: Anya Mayer

May 26: Prompt: Semi-random constraints.

Make a list of 10 constraints — words (nouns, adjectives, verbs), colors, shapes, types of movement; roll a die for random choice of four constraints and use those in your work for the next 20 minutes.

Poem read at end: “What Violins Sing in Their Bed of Lard,” By Hans Arp

Leader: Amy Souza

May 28: “My heart.”

Write, draw, move, or create from three viewpoints, timed at seven minutes each. Suggestions:

  • * Close up; far away; bird’s eye view.
  • * Alien; cougar; clown.
  • * Young you; present-day you; future you.
  • * God; human; ghost.
  • * Confined space; body-sized space; infinite space.

Poem read at end: “Building a Joke,” by Bob Hicok.

Leader: Amy Souza

May 29: “My various selves.”

Meditation: Saying hello to the physical and non-physical self. Acknowledging that we were once an infant/baby, then a toddler, then an adolescent, then a young adult…going through the decades and themes. Our growth and evolution.
Read at end: Anya’s teen journal from April 19th, 1992, when she was 17. (Mortified style.)

Leader: Anya Mayer