"Wool around with fords," writes Karen Benke, spooneristically. "Rake tisks!" Her new book does just that. It's called "Rip the Page: Adventures in Creative Writing" ($14.95 in paperback from Trumpeter, an imprint of Shambhala Publications). As the cover proclaims, "Rip" "includes word play, open-ended writing experiments, encouragement from writers and poets, and enough blank pages to let your words roam."
With a degree in creative writing from Chico State University and an M.A. in Writing from the University of San Francisco, Benke conducts workshops with California Poets in the Schools. Based in the Bay Area, she visited Lyon Books last year to help empower young writers. As she says in her introduction, "Let the tip of you pen scrawl, scribble, leap, doodle, and rip, rip, rip! That's what creative writers do when they aren't busy staring, day-dreaming, and eavesdropping."
Here are dozens and dozens of writing exercises brilliantly disguised as word games. There are word lists (such as sound words like "buuuuurrpp!" and "eeek!"); "try this" experiments (writing a poem about a real-life hero. Let's see: What rhymes with "Rodgers"?); "definition decoders" (connecting inner and outer worlds by describing "what color a star sounds like" or "what does a new idea feel like?"); "suddenly a story" (writing about something HUGE, like a disappointment, and writing about scars, inner and outer: "Tip the word S-C-A-R on its side and see what oozes out. Put your initials on it, date it, tape it above your desk. Look in the mirror and congratulate yourself. Smile at that brave warrior gazing back at you").
Scattered throughout are words from writers to young writers. There's "a note from" Lemony Snicket: "You must spend time eavesdropping on the world, writing down things you see and hear while no one is paying attention to you. This is best done with a notebook, and the first thing you should write down in your notebook is an excuse, so if you are ever caught eavesdropping you will have a good reason. . . ."
Betsy Franco likes "to act like a mad chemist and put things together that don't normally mix, such as math and poetry." ("puddles - rescued worms = cloudy mirrors")
My try: We oldsters support Aaron. Codgers for Rodgers!