Saturday, 1 January 2011

What is a small stone?


(If you are new here - click here for the welcome post)

Firstly: Happy New Year! 

Fiona and I have had fun watching the idea of a small stone travelling across the internet. Watching its journey from just a slip of a thought to becoming a thing in its own right. But what is that thing?

Fiona has been collecting small stones for years, her own fragments of writing at a small stone, and other people's at a handful of stones.

When I moved out of the Buddhist community I was living in I made a promise to start collecting my own small stones, but it's taken this project, and the momentum of a nearly two hundred other people writing to get me going. I've written a few pre-January stones at another small stone.

Haiku gone wrong?

Seeing someone writing that a small stone looked like "Haiku gone wrong" prompted this post.

A small stone might be a haiku, but it might not be. We're not asking for you to write in any form. What we're asking for is for you to look, and listen and taste and feel with all your attention, and then to put this into words. A tight form can help with this: T.S. Eliot talked about how having a good fixed structure can help reveal a deeper truth as your creativity is confined by the form.

But good haiku is difficult. The form has its own desires and sympathies, and it might not be the best way to describe the stone you have picked up. Perhaps a tanka might be better. I've written truly awful examples of both.

I'm not even sure a small stone is a poem. "What a poem is" is beyond the scope of this post (and beyond me).

Sometimes a small stone is just a few words that points to the moment, like this example by Mop from Poésie minimaliste - Minimalist poetry
Bath Time.
Five sparrows in the water.

Sometimes a small stone points to something seen inside a person, or felt about a person, like this stone by Rose Mary Boehm from Coming Up For Air
Need

They bought her a puppy
when what she needed
was her mum and a ride
across the far side
of the moon.
Be Playful!
No one is sitting here judging. Whilst we are encouraging you to really look, and listen and feel, take the chance to play a little with words as well. When you have your moment in mind, try capturing it just as a few words, or a couple of longer sentences or as a haiku and see what difference it makes.

For more about what a small stone is, and how to polish them, have a look at this article Fiona wrote a little while ago: Writing your own small stones

Feel free to ignore all of this advice ;) We hope that you are enjoying the writing, and discovering new things about the world around you.

~ Kaspa

18 comments:

  1. Thank you, this is really helpful. I'm looking forward to gathering my own small stones throughout the day and settling down to polishing them. :)

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  2. "Haiku gone wrong" seems a little harsh. Admittedly, as someone who does write haiku on a regular basis, I scratched my head when I first started reading small stone, but accepted them for what they were and was happy to see these small bits of writing capturing the extraordinary in the ordinary.

    It's quite possible a lot of my stones will be haiku, but I also want to challenge myself to write freely and let the moment take shape how it pleases.

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  3. Happy New Year and thank you for this river!

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  4. Happy New Year to you and Fiona. It feels exciting to be swimming this river with 200 other people. I have written myself a reminder to check other small stones as we go along!

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  5. Lovely post. Thank you. I'll be keeping the small stones privately in a handwritten diary, and I have an actual small stone on the shelf above my computer desk, as well.

    Meanwhile, in preparation, I read a wonderful chapbook, Stone For An Eye, by Karen Craigo, which came into my life fortuitously at the end of 2010.

    Happy New Year.

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  6. I've added my first stone to the river. It's my first piece of writing for 2 years and marks the breaking of an enormous brick wall.
    dibleydo blogs

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  7. When should I worry that I haven't appeared on the blogroll as I watch other entries later than mine? You two have had so much to do that I wonder if my site for stones didn't get swopped for my regular blog address.
    The stone site is: http://margoroby.blogspot.com/
    Sorry to be a nuisance, but this stone wants to be with the others.

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  8. Margo - I've just got to this and you were right we hadn't put you on - apologies - you're there now! Let us know if you have any more problems.

    Eliza - good, Kaspa will be pleased. We look forward to reading them.

    Aubrie, yes, it was the harshness that made me smile ;) we're quite happy to be representing haiku gone wrong...I hope you enjoy letting go into small stones occasionally.

    Nan - thank you - same to you!

    Kathleen - hand-written stones are special. And what synchronicity. Do post one of the poems here if you like.

    Su - I'm SO happy to have assisted in any way to a breaking of silence. Hope you're celebrating!

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  9. Thank you! This is quite an opportunity!

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  10. I'm enjoying writing small stones, feeling a bit less awkward. A bit. :)

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  11. I added my first stone to the river. Not sure I got it right, but not sure there is a right or wrong stone, just some are a bit more shiny than others.

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  12. Happy New Year to all. I added my first stone.
    Kaspa thanks for the techie help.
    Pamela

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  13. Happy New Year! Looking forward to the river of stones.

    I created a dedicated page for the stones on my blog-if you'd like to change the link. Otherwise, people can find the stones from the home page.

    Thanks!
    Donna
    http://djvorreyer.wordpress.com/small-stones-for-januarys-river/

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  14. A well thought out and gentle rebuttal, Kaspa

    Haiku gone wrong? Am I the only one who likes to bust out of the 5-7-5 form?

    I like "wrong" haikus.
    I get tired of counting
    syllables on my fingers


    Happy new year to all.

    Loll

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  15. Hi Fiona,
    I'd enjoy participating. I made a new Blog especially for this project. Maybe I'll continue past he month - we'll see how it goes!
    Thank you!
    http://dailyonegoodthing.blogspot.com/

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  16. Fiona and I have had fun watching the idea of a small stone travelling across the internet. Watching its journey from just a slip of a thought to becoming a thing in its own right.
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