In honor of National Poetry Month and William Shakespeare’s 458th birthday in April, members of the Common Expressions creative writing group at Beaumont Commons, Dearborn, held its annual presentation to read their poems and other original works.
It also marked the start of the 13th year of this senior community’s creative writing group led by Michael Madigan, a published author who retired nine years ago from Oakwood Healthcare as a relationship specialist. community.
“I was in charge of the speakers’ bureau at Oakwood,” says Madigan, “and also moderator of our creative writing program. It was an after-work learning event for employees and the public and featured prominent Detroit writers as guest instructors.
“In April 2010, I brought the essence of the program to Oakwood Common, as a way to reactivate an earlier group of writers. I called it Common Expressions, designed to cover the full gamut of writing as art – fiction, poetry, essay, memoir. Since then, sessions have been held monthly. 108 different residents have joined and produced works so far.
“We had a 15 month gap during the worst of Covid-19. My own visits were not possible, but several residents kept a regular schedule of meetings and assigned paperwork. Luckily we recovered quite well last year when the restrictions were eased.
April’s event, “A Celebration of Writers,” also served as an invitation to program participants to find the writers in themselves and join the group.
The first host, resident Phyllis Tippet, shared the impact of the class and motivated her to write a haiku for each day in March, bringing copies for others interested in reading. Haiku is a form of Japanese poetry written in three lines of five, seven, and five syllables.
Kathy Kauffman read three original poems, each in a different style. She wrote the first track called “Home at Twilight” in freestyle, to describe her return to Beaumont Commons after a medical procedure and the feeling that she had truly come home.
While the Common Expressions group only meets once a month, resident Diane Schuler explained how several members have created a self-contained group to meet more frequently. “It gives us the opportunity to discuss ways to improve our missions,” she said. Then she read a catchy travelogue about a disastrous family trip.
Capturing everyone’s attention was resident Jo Boomer, who read an original short story using powerful powers of description and ending it with listeners eagerly awaiting the next chapter – to be continued.
Beth Rager, who is well known on the Dearborn campus as a guitarist and singer-songwriter, shared several original pieces about growing up that included a humorous memoir titled:
Radio City Theater
“A routine Saturday event of my teenage years was going to the movies at the Radio City Theater in Ferndale, Michigan. It was the time when there were cartoons and newsreels followed by double features that were kept repeating nonstop all day. Once you’ve paid your 25 cents to get in, you can stay all day. That’s exactly what my cousin Connie and I did every Saturday. But instead of watching the movies again and again, we spent our time in the women’s restroom lounge with a pack of cigarettes, practicing inhaling and blowing smoke rings.
For the final presentation, Madigan read an original piece called “Iambic Pentameter” about the experience of living and learning at Beaumont Commons. His poem was itself written in iambic pentameter – from the 14th to the 20th century, the most common line and rhythm of English-language verse. The simple iambic “foot” is an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable. In this way, iambic poetry mimics the human heartbeat. The pentameter is five “feet” per line. “Should I compare you to a summer day? (Shakespeare, 1609) and “Take it easy on this good night” (Dylan Thomas, 1951) are two famous opening lines of iambic pentameter.
To wrap up the event, Madigan invited everyone to join the Creative Writing Group which meets from 1:30-3 p.m. on the third Thursday of every month.
Over the next few months, the Common Expressions group will learn how to write memoirs. “Of the nine billion people in the world, only you can write your story,” Madigan said. “An interesting memoir depends as much as poetry and fiction on the unique flavor that only you can give it.”
Those interested in joining the Beaumont Commons Common Expressions group are encouraged to call 800-642-4663.