Bell Sound: 14th January 2020

Yesterday in class, our writing prompt was a small brass bell. The bell has a particularly clear tone. Everyone wrote about whatever the bell sound triggered in their memory, or thoughts and associations. One student wrote a spoken word piece - a polemic about the sounds of the apocalypse. Another wrote a poem about bells being part of the fabric of her family's life back home in South Africa. One of our new students wrote about how the bell made her recall the sound of the clock chiming at her grandmother's house in South America. For another, the bell triggered a memory of a train journey in China two years ago. And for another student, the bell recalled a long-forgotten school days memory which inspired a wonderful village life creative nonfiction piece from JM.
The task did not focus on telling a story but more on the sensory trigger and allowing that to lead our writers and to lean into and trust their inspiration.
As the morning drew to a close, and the smells from the preparation of the midday meal told us that our time was up, we reflected on the diversity of our class. With students from all over the world, our shared pool of experience is deep. Students reflected how they had 'travelled' all morning from the prison classroom to other places in the memories and words of the work written and shared.
The piece we chose to represent our day was a poem written by E.K. She performs her work with passion and expression, an important dimension that is unfortunately lost in the written word. However, her unusual poem was an authentic response to the bell which touched us all.

Ring Rings Bells
By E.K.

A sweet sound peals. 
It flew
and summoned my brain
passing on an unknown message I must heed. 
the disturbance sounds
across my whole system of thought.

It came unexpected
deep distracting
ringing in my blood

I felt the sound
a message for the New Year:
the bell calls.

Do Not Waste Any Minute,
the bell tolls.
Time and Tide
Waits for No Woman.

The sound left me
how to handle
the timing of the bells
which are to ring
for the whole year.

I am more shocked now
the bells are quiet.

Creative writing class from Langata Women's Prison, Kenya


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