What's Emerging

From Emerging Form with Christie Aschwanden and Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer

Hi Friends of Emerging Form!

We are at work planning season two, which includes a really fun episode on play. To open your mind on what play might be and how it might benefit you, check out this very scientific TED talk by Stuart Brown on Serious Play. You’ll learn about neoteny, and why it’s something you want …


What We’re Reading:

·      We have a new US Poet Laureate! Joy Harjo is the first Native American to be name to the post. You can read her work and find out more about her at her website.

·      Water in the West is always a source of controversy, and Mark Arax has done a masterful job writing about it in his new book The Dreamt Land: Chasing Water and Dust Across California.

·      One of the most important ways, perhaps, to flex our creative muscles is with the people we love. I’m totally inspired by this new book by Sherry Richert Belul, Say It Now: 33 creative ways to say I LOVE YOU to the most important people in your life. I’ve used her ideas as templates to leap from and create unique, intimate, playful gifts for half a dozen friends and family members. Great creative fodder for your relationship muse.

·      For a novel look on modern love and marriage, Christie is reading Fleishman’s in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner.


Online Resources:

Looking for places to submit your writing? If you’re a poet, Trish Hopkinson has a remarkably generous site with deadlines, places to submit, interviews with editors and judges.


Do You Need a Permission Slip?

Today my friend Sherry told me she was thinking about permission. Specifically, she was thinking about what holds people back from being playful. And it occurred to me that so many of us have built cages around what is possible, and that we, for whatever reason, don’t think we have permission to do something out of our norm.

This shows up in writing in many ways. We might think, Who am I to have a voice? Do I really have something to say anyone else wants to read/listen to? Do I really have time to for a creative practice? Or perhaps we limit ourselves in other ways. For instance, for years I told people that I wrote poems because I had no sense of plot. I really believed it. I had told myself that story for song long, it became true. Until I gave myself permission to write a story. Because I had to, by the way, not because I necessarily wanted to.

What stories have you been telling yourself that limit your creative potential? If you could write yourself a permission slip that would open up your creative practice, what would it be?

Bonus: Write yourself that note. Put it somewhere you can see it every day. Act on it.


Two Questions:

  1. As a child, what were your favorite ways to play?

  2. How might you incorporate play into your creative process?

What's Emerging

From Emerging Form with Christie Aschwanden and Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer

Hi Friends of Emerging Form!

We will be doing a live presentation for Women’s Forum on creative process, play and community building in Carbondale, CO, on June 25, 2019. If you are a woman living in the area and you would like to be invited for the night to connect with other women in your area, let us know and we’ll get you an invitation!


What We’re Reading:

·      Sometimes we are profoundly aware of our own becoming. That’s the theme of this poem by the wonderful Mary Oliver, “Reckless Poem,” featured in Poetry 180.

·      Pam Houston, our guest on Episode 6, just published this moving essay in Outside Online about the death of her horse.

·      How did writing under aliases allow this woman writer to flourish and contribute to her demise? The wild story of Letitia Landon.

·      Rafael Jesús González, our guest on Episode 9, offers us this reflection on Memorial Day and the Vietnam Memorial.


Online Resources:

Check out Writers Helping Writers, featuring books, workshops, webinars, tools and a really cool thesaurus.


The Devil is in the Details:

Um, yeah. So you may recall how in Episode 9 on Awards, Rosemerry was remembering the details of a contest in 2008 on A Prairie Home Companion? She got the gist right but missed on a few details. The radio show came out in April, 2008, not near Valentine’s Day. There were 35 finalists out of 4,000 entries, not 20. And the boy that pulled the name out of the hat was 12, not 10. The effect was the same—she was a finalist and her name was not drawn out of the hat so she didn’t win 3 dozen roses and a mattress.

But this brings us to a small rumination on the phrase “The devil is in the details.” It means, of course, that you better get the details right, and if not there might be hell to pay. The first known written reference is from 1963, though it didn’t come into popular speech until the 1990s.

But this idiom came out of an earlier German phrase, “God is in the detail,” (only one detail here) which came from the German, "Der liebe Gott steckt im detail." This is a quite different connotation, something that every writer knows: It’s important to get just the right detail—because the closer you come to getting a detail right, the more you can touch the truth and the more resonance the story will have.

Sooo… sorry about flubbing the details! You can listen to the exact A Prairie Home Companion episode yourself, found in the show notes of Episode 9.


Two Questions:

Who do you know that seems to be thriving creatively?

What are two practices you could learn from this creative person?

How do you possibly select a winner?

Rafael Jesús González reads a poem about the challenges of judging a writing prize.

Our last episode of season 1 was about awards: how should we think of them? Are they worth caring about? How do you manage your disappointment when you don’t win?

One of our guests on the episode, Rafael Jesús González, was the (reluctant) judge of the 2019 Fischer Poetry Prize. Here, he reads his poem about what it was like to select a winner. Read the text of his poem is below.

Welcome to the Emerging Form newsletter!

This newsletter is for sharing interesting research, ideas and insights about creativity. We’ll post a note every time a new episode of Emerging Form drops and we’ll share announcements about events like workshops, live shows, and other stuff related to Emerging Form.

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