April Lewis

COLUMN: Keep your mind sharp by writing

How-to poetry book inspires during COVID-19 pandemic

Happy New Year!

With 2020 now a haunting memory, we can look forward to 2021 when hopefully we will witness the end of this wretched pandemic and receive a much-awaited shot in the arm.

Literally.

As in vaccines.

But until we get the anticipated jabs, it promises to be a long, dreary winter.

There will be endless rainy days and dark nights to endure before we can resume our normal activities, which may include travel to sunnier climes.

Unless, of course, you are a politician, where travel restrictions don’t apply.

But for the rest of us peons, until then, we will have to strive to keep sane and physically fit.

Getting outside and going for a walk, or doing yoga or pilates on Zoom may take care of our aging bodies – but what about our mental fitness?

I am sure you have overdosed on Netflix and CNN and are craving something new to maintain your sanity while you await your turn to roll up your sleeves.

I have just what the doctor ordered for you.

A book my girlfriend gave me for Christmas entitled, A Writer’s Year: 365 Creative Writing Prompts by Emma Bastow.

Methinks my friend knows I am in a bit of a writing slump as my sophomore book is yet unpublished.

And you may be thinking that you’re not a writer and don’t have a creative bone in your body.

I am going to challenge you on that. You know that keeping your mind active, stimulated and engaged is a part of healthy aging.

Years ago, I took a creative writing course at UBC and it was the most challenging, yet invigorating, thing I ever did. It pushed me beyond my boundaries and gave me insight to a creative side of myself I didn’t know existed.

And you can experience the same, I assure you.

I opened up the aforementioned book and the first thing I read was: Write a haiku about a frog.

A haiku is a Japanese poem of 17 syllables, in three lines of five, seven and five, traditionally evoking images of the natural world.

Who says I am green?

Not the grass or the spring leaves

Please let me be me.

It doesn’t have to be brilliant. It’s simply fun.

Then it suggested I write a sonnet. A sonnet is a poem of 14 lines; three quatrains and one couplet in iambic pentameter, or 10 syllables per line.

When shall I enjoy a virus-free year

And when can I say goodbye to this bug?

Not knowing the answer fills me with fear

Not sharing kisses, a cuddle or hug.

Watch Doctor Bonnie and Adrian Dix

Update the numbers of each dreadful case

My sleeve is rolled up awaiting my fix

Hey, Mr. Pfizer, please pick up the pace.

I know we’re so close yet so far away

The months will pass by before it’s my turn

Feeling unsettled and full of dismay

Waiting inspires me to lovingly learn.

Penning a sonnet and then a haiku

I’ll start writing poems, that’s what I’ll do!

Here are more inspiring suggestions from the book:

• Write a letter to be read 100 years from now.

• What would your biography be called?

• Or how would you describe a table to someone who has never seen one?

• What does beauty mean to you?

• What would you like to be given a second chance at?

• Finish the sentence: “She knew she would never be the same person again after…”

So while you are waiting for your vaccine, pass the tedious winter days courting your imagination.

Right on!

Write on!

April Lewis is the local communications director for CARP, a national group committed to a ‘New Vision of Aging for Canada.’ She writes monthly.

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