Spoken Word CAS

by rachel

Spoken Word was a CAS activity that I joined before CAS started for me actually. It is also one of my favourite CAS activities, one that I look forward all the time, that gives me a bit of peace each time I go.

Throughout the school week, I find it very hard to find time to really sit down and write. There always seems to be something else ‘more important’ (ie. graded) to do. So just the opportunity to take 1.5 hours aside purely for writing is really therapeutic. Add in a highly supportive community and it really is the best best best.

The key exercise that we do involves each person writing down a prompt based on a category, then putting the scrap of paper into the centre of the circle for each writer to draw one so we can all exchange prompts. Elaine then sets the timer for anything between 3 minutes to 12 minutes and we just write for that duration before sharing our pieces with each other.

This practice of exchanging prompts really does leave us with some of the most unexpected topics to start writing from. And being forced to write in that time frame then also pushes us to try it anyway. For example, one of the prompts I got a week or two ago was ‘cocaine’ from Diego (I think the category was food or something along those lines). ‘Cocaine’ isn’t exactly up my usual train of thought and when I first received the prompt my thoughts went something like ‘oh damn. How do I write about something I have absolutely no clue about??? Oh nooooo help meeee~~~~’. But then this happened:

I have never tried cocaine.
But if I did I imagine it’d taste something like your blood
Pooling in circles around mine,
a colour I’ve almost forgotten how to see.
I imagine it would feel the way your nails do,
when they scratch beneath the surface of my skin,
pulling layers of wednesday, tuesday, monday, off off

I have forgotten the way your bloodied tongue lingers on my cracked lips,
Iron smarting the tiny lines I scratch out
in hope of finding something –
in vain of finding –

People tell you not to try it,
that it gets you addicted, that you no longer know what you’re doing.
They say it can take you and break you,
It can also bring you to impossible highs and lows.

I’m talking about cocaine of course,
I’m talking about cocaine.

It’s definitely still very much a draft but I quite like the direction it took especially since it’s something I never would have thought of writing about before.

I’ve never been the kind of person to write in a group – writing was always something to satiate the 2 am buzz, something hidden in the corners of my room, something left crouching over the table. But in spoken word CAS I’ve slowly begun to come out of my shell a bit more with the things I write, daring to share them with people, daring to let it be a communal act and not another wall in my hermit’s abode.

And at the same time, it’s also been useful for when I want to write alone. Occasionally there are things I want to write that just won’t get out and using the speed writing exercises that we do in Spoken Word CAS helps with that. A few weeks back we did an exercise titled “An open letter to ____ “, all of us eventually deciding that our siblings would be the subject of this open letter. I won’t share that piece because it’s something I would prefer to keep private for now.

However, when I went home I used the same “An open letter to ____” prompt for me to write. While again I won’t share what initially came of that prompt, I will share the final piece I wrote.


Your eyes located mine on a latitude
of trust, longitude of curiosity.

But the truth is your compass never pointed straight back at me –
I was a magnet for misplaced affection,
A changing field. Not (now nor then)
your home point, your north peak.

I am the needle that swings through north
and south and back
again, stitching your name across
the rim of my mouth my
tongue wraps around on nights I
am loath to forget.

You told me “with me around you’ll never be lost”
In truth, it was in you that I lost.

I apologise for the teenage angst oops but this was something I’d wanted to write for quite awhile but never got around finding the right words for it. And it was through the open letter exercise that I eventually pieced together a number of images that formed the backbone for this poem, the key image being that of a compass and direction, something I hope comes through.

As the term progresses, I do hope to continue utilising things I pick up through Spoken Word CAS for my own writing out of the CAS activity. Also, I hope to work on the pieces that we speed write during CAS so as to form more concrete pieces out of them instead of leaving them in the draft stage.

Over the course of this year in general, or at least the 4 months or so that have passed, I think I’ve begun to see the importance of drafts more and more in writing. I never used to be a person for drafts, spending ages agonizing over the single word, single stanza. But I have come to find that a lot of the time it could be more conducive to just write and get the general idea of what I might be trying to say out first. For all I know, what I think I want to say and what I actually want to say might be two completely different things and I wouldn’t know unless I just let myself go with it and write it out.

If anyone out there seems to be hitting a little road block in their writing, feel free to try speed writing, maybe in a group! Alone there isn’t that pressure to keep writing so it could end up a bit futile (as I myself have experienced in the past). But there really is nothing to risk with sharing little bits of yourself with a group of friends you know and trust! Hope this helps, see ya~