Bertha Rogers is a poetry institution and the pulse of the arts in Delaware County and throughout New York State. An editor, a publisher, internationally published poet of note, visual artist, master teaching artist, gallery curator, and former NYSCA Literature panelist, Bertha has more energy than the sun itself, it seems. We are visiting with Bertha a couple of times this week before we get the pleasure of her reading this coming Friday when she appears with Greg Ames at 7:00 p.m. at the DWC; free, as always.
We asked Bertha to provide a favorite writing prompt and she kindly responded with the following exercise:
Any poem by William Stafford gets everyone in the room, young to old, writing.
I've never seen anything like it! Here's a perfect example:
Some time when the river is ice ask me
mistakes I have made. Ask me whether
what I have done is my life. Others
have come in their slow way into
my thought, and some have tried to help
or to hurt: ask me what difference
their strongest love or hate has made.
I will listen to what you say.
You and I can turn and look
at the silent river and wait. We know
the current is there, hidden; and there
are comings and goings from miles away
that hold the stillness exactly before us.
What the river says, that is what I say.
— William Stafford
So there you have it! Bertha knows poetry! Sit with this poem and then let your hand go where it wills. Trust yourself and don't overthink it...just respond. Let us know what you come up with and we will also share any work with Bertha to show her the results of her prodding us.