Garbage is the word we apply to objects we no longer see a value in or a use for. What if we decided to look at that which we call “trash” with new eyes? What if each item in the bin told a story about its former owners, of its origin, of the history of all items like it? What if it foretold the future? After all, nothing can ever truly be thrown away; it can only be transformed.
Go out to a dumpster or trash bin in your local area. It could be a public bin, or one behind a store, or your neighbour’s house. Make sure no one is watching. You may wish to use gloves or protective equipment if you plan to get dirty, but this exercise can also be done from a slight distance if you’d rather not touch anything. Write down all the objects you see on the surface of the dumpster. Describe them in careful detail, making sure not to miss any of the five senses. If you are brave enough, you can dig in the bin and get to the layers underneath and see what you find there too. Make note of how the objects change as you dig further into the trash. What do you find down below, at the very bottom of the bin? What transformations are occurring as you go into the below?
This exercise is inspired by the Somatic Poetry Rituals of CAConrad
What is it we take for granted about windows? What do I know about making glass, making wood and metal frames? Very little is the answer. The less we know about a thing, the more likely we are to dismiss it or never notice it. Windows fascinate me, thinking of the first humans who poked a hole in their mud and straw hut. Windows let light in, let us look outside, allow us to see who is approaching.
Take a walk through your neighborhood, or any area near you with a lot of windows. Think stores, apartment complexes, businesses. Observe what you see in them, taking notes on the windows themselves – their shapes, their materials – as well as what you observe inside. This can include objects, light, people, sounds, plants. Alternatively, you can also choose one window – say, in a local grocery store, or a home with some activity within. Stay there for an entire day; or, alternately, return to the window at given moments throughout an entire day or week. Write down what you see, with no commentary – simply observe the life within.
The words we speak in conversation both reveal and obfuscate our true selves. A one-sided conversation is wonderful to observe, for the gaps it leaves for the listener’s imagination. Go into a public space such as a train, park, or bar (if your government calls for six feet of social distancing, please attend to this regulation at all times). Stand or sit casually and unobtrusively near a stranger on a cell phone. Don’t let them see you observing them, obviously. Do not look at them at all: only listen. Write down, or record, fragments of their conversation. Transform them into something new.