For Friday, September 30, 2016:
From Pat Schneider’s Writing Alone and with Others is this section entitled ‘Sometimes Take a Risk – Use Something for Outrageous Humor or to Break a Taboo’ (page 299):
In the first few years of my workshop in Ireland, we met in a convent, and the participants were nuns. Taking a lead from my friend and Ursuline Sister Maire O’Donohoe, who invited me there and has a wonderful comic gift, I went each year prepared with something that I hoped would be funny, as well as my usual exercises. One year I had difficulty finding a good idea and then thought of the new shop in our college town that sold nothing but condoms. Perfect! I had a very funny conversation with the young man who was selling them, trying to figure out which would be the best model for an exercise with nuns in Ireland. In the workshop, I had them all in a brown paper bag, and handed them out solemnly, one to each Sister. I did tell them ahead of time that this object might arouse humor, anger, or some other emotion. That would be fine for writing – just write anything that comes, I said. Sure enough, most of the women wrote very funny pieces after they opened the packages and examined the contents. One wrote a bitterly angry piece about contraception, and one ignored the exercise entirely and wrote about something else. But she didn’t give the condom back.