Two Birds on the Land Spring Migration Tour

Friday, March 30, 2012

Writing and Wordlessness

It is a great thing to know the season for speech and the season for silence.
--Seneca (5 BC - 65 AD)


Wow! It’s noisy out there!  In addition to machine sounds: cars, trucks, helicopters, sirens, machinery of the everyday life in central Illinois, there are WORDS everywhere. There are voices in the coffeeshop, on the street, in the store, there is the TV news, radio news, the internet. Talk talk talk radio, all the urgent, anxiety-provoking voices. There are billboard signs we read in our heads as if they are spoken to us (or SHOUTED), there are newspapers, flyers, posters, and cereal boxes advertising events, ideas, products. And then there are the internalized voices, and the talking-to-ourselves voices making lists, planning, retelling our stories to ourselves (and others if they will listen). Inner voices, but not necessaily the good, helpful kind. These are the words that get in the way of creativity.


As writers, words are our raw materials Рbut sometimes the words, the trivial drivel, the common and clich̩ words make the world a sloppy and unappetizing alphabet soup Рsomehow the word is too much with us.


To find the words that are fresh, trembling-new, alive,wise and true, it might be better to drop out of the word soup into something Martha Beck calls “wordlessness.” 


Is there a switch inside us to turn off words?


Some ways to drop into wordlessness:

  • Meditation

  • Watching clouds (like you did as a child)

  • Long walk in the spring woods or prairie

  • Any truly sensual experience that can take you out of words and into wordless experience

  • Creating "word clouds"

What is a word cloud and how do you create one?  Take a look at the  Wordle website

Wordle is an online tool/toy for playing with words.  You type or copy in a piece of text and the software turns it into a "word cloud" image. Then you can see your words in a wordless way, look at what words stand out, notice juxtapositions you might not have thought of. You can play with colors, layout and fonts. 


Try it! It could spark a new thought or a new way of looking at your own writing.


Here's a wordle I made from a piece about how spring arrives:


Try making a word cloud from a freewrite and hit  the randomize button a few times for different versions. See what words are thrown into interesting juxtapositions. Make a poem out of something interesting you find there.


Saturday, March 24, 2012


We passed the equinox last week, but here in Central Illinois we feel like we are deep into spring. The year is waxing, and everywhere life is expanding. 

In the forest, tiny microcosms emerge: whole colonies of Dutchman's Breeches, Trout Lily, Mayapple.

Take a look at the lists of words below. Add to the list if you like.

Look outward into the world; look inward into your heart. Ask yourself: "What is growing, expanding, blooming, rising in my life?"

Write about it.






Friday, March 16, 2012


This week's offering consists of a photo, a list of words... do what you want with them! 
There's still space in the Birdland Spring Writers Retreat on April 21. Be sure to sign up before  March 31!

Derived from a Greek word meaning things lasting no more than a day,  ephemera refers to printed and written materials such as postcards, letters, tickets, magazines. Ephemeral ponds last for part of the year; and ephemeral creatures that breed there have a life cycle that completes itself in less than a year. But it’s all relative. How can a postcard endure? How can a prairie be ephemeral? A mountain? The earth?

I took this photo of a closed up store that once sold ephemera in a small town in west central Illinois in 2010. Closed up, all the ephemera moved out, the shop itself was ephemeral. Who knows what it is now?

Here’s a list of synonyms for ephemeral:
momentary, passing, brief, episodic, evanescent, fleeting, flitting, fugacious, fugitive, impermanent, short, short-lived, temporary, transient, transitory, unenduring, volatile

And some antonyms: enduring, eternal, everlasting, interminable, lasting, long, permanent, perpetual

Exercise: Write about what’s ephemeral in your life. Write about what’s enduring.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Walking with Joy

I happened onto this page today, Walk with Joy. It reminds me of my own meditation about walking the path to Joy.

Walking the Path to Joy

Joy offers a lovely photo every day with suggestions to focus a simple meditation. A link leads to a centering exercise. Touching these tiny moments of clarity each day can help us find our balance.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Weekly Prompts and Quotations

Mary and Karen have agreed to share some weekly goodies on the Two Birds Blog in the form of writing prompts and inspirational quotations.  We're taking turns doing it. We'd love to hear comments and responses.

This week's prompt is in the form of a photograph and a list of synonyms for the verb "to nest."
Here are three options for this prompt:

1.Choose one or two words  (or many) from the list and add  or shape to make a poem in the form of a nest.
2. Freewrite: where do you nest, park or perch? Where do you settle, sojourn, or squat?
3. Do any other kind of writing this photo and list lead you to do.

abide, bide, bunk, continue, crash, establish oneself, exist, flop, hang one's hat, hang out, hole up, inhabit, keep house, locate, lodge, make one's home, nest , occupy, park, perch, pitch tent, quarter, remain, rent, reside, rest, room, roost, settle, sojourn, squat, stay, stop, tarry, tenant, tent