Writing Prompts

Word Prompt: Sleep | Story Prompt: from the essay “White Pine” by Robin Wall Kimmerer, found in the book “The Mind of Plants” edited by John C. Ryan, Patricia Vieira, and Monica Gagliano

Write It Out: Instruction Video

‘The indigenous story tradition speaks of a past in which all beings spoke the same language and life lessons flowed among species. But we have forgotten — or been made to forget — how to listen so that all we hear is sound, emptied of its meaning. The soft sibilance of pine needles in the wind is an acoustic signature of pines. But this well-known “whispering of pines” is just a sound, it is not their voice.

What if you were a great teacher, a holder of knowledge and vessel of stories, but had no audible voice with which to speak? What if your listeners presumed you to be mute, save for the passive whispering of your needles? How would you bring your truth into the world? Wouldn’t you dance your story in branch and root? Wouldn’t you write it in the eloquence of cellulose? In the lasting archive of wood? Plants tell their stories not by what they say but by what they do. They tell their story in their bodies, in an alphabet once as familiar as the song of every bird, which we have also forgotten, as we became afflicted not only with plant blindness but plant deafness as well.

If you know how to see, their storytelling goes deeper than the curve of a windward branch. Everything that affects the pine is expressed in its body. The tree is an integrator of all its experience and that of the surrounding community. When you have learned its lexicon, the story of the weevils, the drought, the fire, the blister rust, the wind, the canoe makers, and the maples are all plainly written. And more.’


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