Mar 1 2011

Game Poem 38: Memoir

Memoir is a game poem is played by a single person. You. Over the course of the game, you will be remembering and discovering the diaries of your future self.

To begin, you will need to gather a few of your own personal artifacts, like photographs of yourself with friends or family, a few objects that you might find around yourself, mundane or significant or anywhere in between, and so on. These are the things that others might pick up and immediately know that they belonged to you, or things that invoke certain feelings or memories for you, even if they have no meaning to anyone else.

You will also need to collect a few items that do not belong to you, and do not have any familiarity or bearing on your present day life. These might be photos of someone who looks similar to you, but is much older, some objects that you’ve never seen before, or that mean nothing to you, or any random thing that you might find that does not immediately resonate with you, and make you say, “this is mine.”

The game also requires that you have somewhere private to write. This may be an open text document on your computer, or a fresh notebook or pad of paper, or whatever you feel most comfortable with. You will also need a timer of some kind, that will be set for fifteen minutes.

Settle down someplace quiet, and place the items and photos that you have assembled in front of you. When you are ready, close your eyes, and envision what you would imagine your life might be like in five years – or ten, or twenty, or forty. Only take a few moments to do this. Breathe. Open your eyes.

Write a date at the top of your diary entry, a date some number of years from now. Breathe. Look at the objects set out before you. Let them tell you what has happened in the years between now and the time ahead. Now, start the timer, and write an account of your future self’s life. Write as yourself, in the first person, as if what you are writing is absolutely true, as you remember it. Write without stopping for fifteen minutes, without thinking, just get the words down.

When the timer ends, you will finish your current thought, and be done. Close the document, or put away your notebook, and let it sit for a while before going back to read it again.

You may obviously play this game as many times as you like. If you wish to collect the pages of your future memoir together in some way, be sure to save them and keep them somewhere safe. When the time comes – or when the date that you have written at the top of each entry rolls around – take them out and read them again, and think about how the person who wrote them has lived their life.

Jun 28 2010

Game Poem 26: The Leaves Will Bury

This game is for a few players, somewhere around two to five. You will need a pen, and twenty or thirty small pieces of paper to write on. The players will choose someone, a person that they all know, or create a fictional person that they will all come to know. Either way, the players will choose the name of the person and write it on one of the pieces of paper.

Working together to inspire each other, and to prevent duplication, the players should each write down a number of facts about the person, one per piece of paper. Note their birthday and their age, write about their appearance, what color their hair and eyes are, how tall or short they are, what their skin is like, and so on. Add more details, one per paper, about their personality, what they liked, what they hated, how they talked, how they laughed, whether they seemed bitter or cheerful, if they always complained or always smiled, what kinds of things they believed in, and so forth. Talk about and write down things surrounding them, their prized possessions, the people that they loved and despised and tolerated, how you all know them. Note down what kind of car they drove or what kind of bike they rode, what their favorite books and movies and games and music were. Add anything that comes tom mind, until you have twenty-five or thirty facts about the person. Take all of the slips of paper, and shuffle them roughly into a stack that everyone can reach.

This person has recently died, and you have all gathered together because of them. You will play a scene as yourselves that takes place at or just after the person’s funeral. Players should talk about the deceased respectfully, but not necessarily mournfully; everyone is allowed their own feelings and perspective about their late acquaintance. Reminisce as you wish, discussing what the person was like, using the details written on the pieces of paper as reminders, trying to work most – if not all – of the elements that you’ve written into the conversation. After a few minutes, no more than five, the conversation will end, and you will all finish up, give your regards, and say goodbye to each other.

Years pass. The players should take turns picking out and discarding slips of paper, until about a quarter of them are gone. You may wish to get rid of the less important details first, but that is your decision. Tear each of the discarded papers in two, and let the pieces fall to the ground onto their grave.

The second scene takes place several years after the person’s death. Each player will play themselves once again, only much older this time – possibly nearing the end of their own lives. You have all come together again for some special reason – decide why amongst yourselves – and the conversation will inevitably drift to the topic of your old deceased friend. Talk about your former acquaintance for a little while, using only the details that still exist on the remaining pieces of paper. You may remember something of one of the facts that was lost, but you will be unable to bring it to mind. After a few minutes, the conversation will turn to another topic, and the scene will end.

Years pass. The players again take turns picking out and discarding slips of paper, until only about half of the original pieces of information remain. Tear each of the discarded papers in two, and let the pieces fall to the ground onto their grave.

The third scene takes place many years later. Each player will play someone from the following generation, someone who lives on after the player’s own death. Perhaps a child or a grandchild, or a student or a young friend who is now grown. Decide why you have all met now, and have a conversation that begins with someone recalling an old friend of their parent or grandparent or teacher or whatever you choose. You will all have some kind of connection to this person in some way, but you will only be able to recall the facts that exist on the remaining slips of paper. You may try to recall the other details, but you will fail. The conversation will soon return to more present topics, and the scene will end.

Years pass. The players once more take turns picking out and discarding slips of paper, until only a few remain. Tear each of the discarded papers in two, and let the pieces fall to the ground onto their grave.

The final scene takes place at a much later date, perhaps a hundred years or more in the future. The players will each play someone who was associated somehow with their previous character; again, decide why you have all gathered together. One player will bring up the deceased person in passing, and the others will discuss their life with some amount of curiosity. Again, only the few details that exist on the remaining slips of paper may be used, and again, the conversation will inevitably turn to another topic, and the scene will end.

Years pass. The players take turns tearing each remaining piece of paper in two, letting them fall to the ground onto the grave. The players will have one last conversation, as themselves, on any topic, but will not mention any of the facts from any of the discarded pieces of paper, except perhaps the fact that they knew someone once who died. Nothing else about the person may be recalled. Inevitably, the conversation will go where it will, and the players will realize at some point that the game has ended. Leave the fallen papers where they lie until someone decides that it is time to clean them up and throw them away.

Mar 31 2010

Game Poem 11: Awakening

Gather a number of players. The players are asleep. A reader will guide their awakening.

Reader, read the following text aloud in a strong, calm, clear voice. Be gentle, take your time. Players, just listen, and do as the reader says.

Everybody close your eyes. Be still. Breathe. You are asleep now. You have been asleep for hours and hours, and you are dreaming.

Your dream is a very pleasant one, and you are enjoying it greatly. Your sleep is a deeply satisfying one, and your dreams bring you happiness and comfort. With your eyes closed, still sleeping, you are completely aware that you are in your dream world, and you are able to imagine and recognize every specific detail of your  that brings you enjoyment. Is the dream constructed of your own memories, or is it entirely created anew from pure fantasy? What are the people, places, objects, and feelings in the dream that make it so pleasant for you? Are you bodily present in the dream, or observing it from a distance? Sit for a few moments and be with your dream, knowing that you will wake in a few moments, and appreciating the dream while it remains.

(Reader, pause for a moment, maybe thirty or forty seconds, then continue.)

Stay with your dream for a few seconds more, but you are feeling the pull of wakefulness now. Your body is beginning to stir, drawing you from the dream world, and back into the waking world. Still calm and happy, you begin to emit a few sounds, a low murmur of incoherent words that describe some elements of your dream. Whisper, mumble, let the soft, indistinct vibrations of the sleepy mind out into the air. You know that morning has arrived, but you want to hold on the your dream for just a little bit longer before letting it slip away.

(Pause again for twenty or thirty seconds.)

Soon, you are hearing not only your own murmurs, but the stirrings of the other players, and the sounds of their dreams start to seep into your own. Let your dream be affected by their words for a few moments, incorporating their thoughts into your own until the elements merge in such a strange manner that they jar you just enough to tip you into waking slightly.

Your dream-talk stops, and the images fade from your mind as you return from sleep.

Slowly, very slowly, with your eyes still closed, your body begins to stir. Your head rises from where it had fallen, you begin to sit up and feel life return to your body, and you stretch a bit to allow your blood to flow through your limbs again. Stretching, and slowly waking up. As your body comes to life again, maybe a sound comes out of your mouth – a yawn, a groan, or perhaps one last word from your dream, reminding you of the images that you were immersed in just a moment or two ago. Peek one eye open, just a bit, but do not focus on any person or thing just yet. As the world comes into view, squint and squish your face a little, and force the other eye open, not looking around, just just relaxing and staring softly into the space in front of you. Your dream has almost entirely slipped away, but your mind is still fighting to hold on to a snatch of it, something that stood out especially, setting this dream apart from others.

As the world begins to come into focus, you slowly realize that the other players are there with you, and recognize that they are also waking, and that their dreams have escaped them as well. Meet the eyes of another sleeper, another dreamer, and silently acknowledge that you have both returned to the waking world. Smile at them and nod, maybe with a touch of sadness, because you both know that your dream will fade away completely, perhaps only resurfacing for a moment sometime in the future, maybe days or years from now, when your mind is drifting.

Say to your waking partner, “Good morning.”

As you hear the other players say the same, look around, stretch and yawn one more time, and greet the rest of the sleepers in the same way. If you feel like you are able to share a piece of your dream while the last remnants are still fresh in your mind, still lingering, hanging on for one more moment, now may or may not be the right time to do so. Perhaps your dream is best kept secret, tucked away in the back of your mind until you return to it again. However, if you feel that it wants to be shared, say, “You know, I was just dreaming about…” and give an impression, a detail, a sense for the dream world that you just left. Nothing too deep or complicated, just enough to convey the general feeling of your dream.

After everyone has fully awakened. The game has ended, and everyone may get up and go about the business of their day.

Feb 4 2010

Game Poem 2: All The Color Has Gone

All The Color Has Gone

Find two coins, and a few friends to play with. Sit with your other players. The person wearing the brightest color begins by naming a place that they have a strong memory of. The starting player picks up one of the coins, and hands the other coin to one of the other players. The starting player begins by noting their memory, only briefly, and then describing the place in which it took place. They may not use any color words in their description. After a minute or so, the player with the other coin waits for the starting player to note a particular thing in their description, lets them finish their current sentence, and then holds up the coin, asking “What color was that?” Both players then flip their coins.

If the two coins do not match, the starting player must pause, blink, take on a confused look, and say, “I don’t know.” If the two coins match, the starting player may answer with one or two color words, blink, take a deep breath, and then hand their coin to a player who has not yet asked for a color. The player who just asked “What color was that?” now begins describing their memory and place, as the starting player did, until the person with the other coin stops them again, and asks for a color. Coins are flipped again, they respond again as above, and then the describer passes their coin to someone who has not yet asked for a color. This is repeated until everyone has done this once.

After every player has had a turn describing their place, with or without a color, the two players who hold the coins flip them one more time, and then place them in the center.

If the coins match, a single color has returned to those who answered “I don’t know” to the question about their description. Each of those players take a turn describing one element of their place that they now remember having a vivid, brilliant color, using only a sentence or two. After every player has had the chance to name a color, pause for a moment, then, beginning with the starting player, go around and have each player speak their color aloud, in turn.

If the coins do not match, color has fled from those who were able to recall one color in their description. Each of those players take a turn describing how the colored item in their place fades, using only a sentence or two. After every player has experienced the loss of color, pause for a moment, then, beginning with the starting player, go around and have each player in turn speak silently, in their mind, the color that they know should have been in their place.

Remember your color, and hold it in your mind until the next time you play. Perhaps then you can remember another.