Handwriting is returning to its ancient magic– now that keyboards are dominant, young people are fascinated with hand written forms. I am not sure where this title came from for my class, but it has to do with my childlike enthusiasm for poetry, and new discoveries that happen when my hand moves to make a word, or two letters connect, or the way a certain tool feels on the paper. As a six year old, when I first learned to write on that blue lined paper, I sat in my room and made pages of letters with my pencil– inscribing love notes and poems from a book that still sits on my shelf: Favorite Poems Old and New, Selected for Boys and Girls, by Helen Ferris.
The practice of handwriting often brings us back to a childhood experience. It does not matter whether it was a positive or negative experience– everyone has a place to begin. We started our class by writing quickly– large, eyes closed, eyes open. Then we exchanged papers– circling letters and ligatures that were different, were not part of our usual hand. What happens when you substitute one letter from your sample into the text you write? Here, one student worked with an alternate “s”. At first it is awkward, then it becomes part of the rhythm. Keeping your tool on the paper, even at the end of lines, helps develop rhythm:
I brought images to class I have from Jans-Joachim Burgert– an inspiring German calligrapher who has taught me a lot– and played with the patterns he suggests:
Below you can see some samples of me playing with the patterns Burgert suggests:
We enlarged shapes from our handwriting until they became small abstract paintings, as you can see in Noelle's book and Marilyn's sketch below:
Writing by hand accesses a different part of the brain than the keyboard. Keeping your hand moving, and not lifting from the paper, settles the mind. Many of you do this! There is no end to discovery, not only visual forms, but it is also a way of staying current with your dreaming self, and what is in your heart. How many of you write handwritten letters? Or play with your handwriting? I'd love to hear your stories.