This exercise is meant as a catalyst & jumping off point for writing. As such, there are no specific stipulations or intentions in mind re poem length, form, subject matter or what you do with your piece. That may come at another time. Instead, just connect & enjoy.
Since our early ancestors first stumbled across a glowing, smoking fissure spitting through the Earth’s crust or witnessed a lightning strike ignite wood & grass, fire has captivated mankind. As the years progressed we subsequently learnt to create and use it; attempted to harness its raw power; endeavoured to develop it for our own ends.
Over time, such a simple object as a candle has been lit to aid, commemorate, signify, commune & celebrate life. Most of us will have needed, bought, stored or used many, or witnessed them on a number of different occasions. For this exercise I would like you to take the opportunity to re-connect with whatever it means to you when we strike such a light.
Obviously, there are times for all of us when it may be difficult to find room or silence to contemplate at home as it may be busy and populaced to the gills. But as intelligent adults we cope with things and find a way to get into our stress free zones, so here-goes!
Please find a space where you can see no one; hear no one; even – if possible – be aware of any one in your periphery. If this is impossible, just try your best not to be distracted.
Once you have found such a space, please make the area you are in as quiet & as dark as possible & then place an unlit candle in front of you.
In the first instance, before you light your candle, wait. Anticipate. Take a moment.
When you are ready, light your candle. Listen. Breath. Smell. Relax.
Then look into the candle flame for as long as you want or if you wish, close your eyes.
At some point hopefully something will surface – some memory, a specific event. Maybe a feeling of something learnt or even a wider sensibility. Perhaps there will come back a tiny thing or a resonance of some situation lived with or echoing still. Or a brighter, sharper focused time; a strong connection to an global or local event; or a spiralling, jumbled collective of emotions that you can’t control.
If nothing happens to you in this candle-time, then give up, go to the kitchen, garden, nearest bar. But if & when something comes and you are ready, reach for a pen and start. Write as you want to write – bullet points or notes; ramblings or stanzas. Just take time to give in, feel, write.
When your moment comes, try to run with it in such a way that the form of your piece finds itself. Free-form doesn’t necessarily fizz into being with speed, nor sonnet with patience. Sometimes form just comes, the subject matter suggesting & suiting itself. Go with what the candle wants.
Whenever you’re done, stop writing/typing. Blow out or wet-finger-snuff the flame. The rest – what you do with your piece a day, week or some other measure later – is up to you. Go for it.