2013 Kearney Marathon participants

Kearney Writing Marathon Starts with Tango and Ends with Potluck

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Writers and Argentine Tango dancers from across Nebraska gathered at the Hilltop Mall in Kearney, Nebraska, to launch the Nebraska Writing Project’s 2013 Spring Writing Marathon on April 20th. Writers were first inspired by a flash mob tango at the mall then moved to writing locations throughout the area such as the Museum of Nebraska Art and the Yanney Park tower and labyrinth.  The event wrapped up with a potluck and read-around at the home of our gracious hosts, Dorothy and Bob Miller.  Many thanks to everyone who attended and helped make this a fantastic NeWP writing marathon! Below is some of the writing from the day.

Follow this link to read the Kearney Hub story about the Writing Marathon which features organizers Dorothy Miller and Susan Martens.

Follow this link to view a video of the Tango Flash mob, including several NeWP writer-dancers!

“The Flash Mob Tango”
 By Diana Luscher

Grace flows through their limbs as the dancers gaze into each other’s eyes. The focus is on the heart, the love, the music. The onlookers sit in silence as beauty unfolds before their eyes. There is shared laughter, seriousness and comfort in the dancers and their audience. Some have come for family, friends; some are shoppers; some are merchants, but all are participants in the warm feelings encompassing the area. For a short time, our lives have been enriched. For a moment, grace has suspended time. 

“Writing Marathon Rules: An Arbitrarily Generated Poem”
By Mark Foradori
(inspired by Andre Codrescu’s found poetry technique)

Marathon was Louth literary,
New Orleans style is down marathon.
The room pause, great criticism usually
And comments, 150.
Yourself to gather. Place ten idea.
Your emerge group person stop.
Nod, process, emerge others.
Buy writer 5:00 from marathon, which
Places beginning hard watched pencil.
Now you and marathon project, writing
Marathon the excerpt and of therefore, but
Usually excerpts Martens. 

“Mallroom Dancing”
by Jeff Grinvalds

Music amplified by boom box cascades
and echoes off the glass and concrete walls
as two by two they tentatively join hands
and begin.

First six
then eight
and twelve

Changing shoes
dropping their baggage outside
of the swinging circle.

They join-- saxophone echoes-- and then they begin
to dance
and then she sings, her full voice rising and swelling
the rhythm familiar as a heartbeat
the passion universal
the language incomprehensible

And twenty two dancers sliding shoes
stuttering steps
a little kick
forward and back
with eyes locked in whispers.

When the music ends
the mall is a mall
the dancers are themselves
the spell that was cast
is broken.
Writers in the sun 

By Kate Brooke
Susan tells us a writing marathon is not about the product, but the process.

About two weeks ago on our morning walk I found a large cecropia moth cocoon. It hung on a stem extended from a scrubby bush, there near the end, as if on display in a department store window. Waiting for me. I collected it, gently snapping the length of twig because it was so beautiful and I didn't want to mar it. When spinning the cocoon, the caterpillar had affixed silk to nearby leaves and drawn them close about itself. Over winter those leaves had disintegrated, but they left deeply imprinted patterns and shapes in the sides as evidence of the caterpillar's desire for shelter. And the shelter was successful: the moth already had eclosed, leaving behind a lightweight shell with a hole at the end, edges pushed outward by the emerging moth. I had walked this trail nearly every morning all winter, actively looking for cocoons, particularly in this area. All the while this cocoon waited, overlooked until the moth had flown away.

Susan tells us a writing marathon is about the process, not the product. 
"Sandhill Cranes at Yanney Park"
By Diana Luscher

From the Gottschalk tower on this windy April day
Huddled in the north fields grus canadensis goes nowhere
Waiting for the warmer south-blowing winds
The cranes search for food, comfort and their ancient souls
Their long journey will bring a mate, an egg, and a new family
Their summer home beckons them now
But the wind and weather have delayed them
Patience is all they have right now
Their future is in the shifting of the winds
“Cliff Hillegass and Me at the MONA.”
 By Susan Martens

   Cliff Hillegass won’t stop staring at me.  He’s got one eyebrow raised  and a bemused smile on his lips.  His glasses are perched on his  forehead, and he’s looking at me like an indulgent uncle.  To my  knowledge, he has never been on a writing marathon, but he seems to  understand it.  He knows exactly what’s going on.
     “I got to the  launch late,” I confess.  “No big deal, but still.  And then I forgot to  tell everyone about the no-response rule.” 
     His raised eyebrow says, “Really?  You’re still worried about that part?”
     His bolo tie says, “You know it doesn’t matter, right?”
      One of his big, bronze hands reaches out to touch my shoulder.  “There,  there,” it says.  “This isn’t about you.  It’s about the writing.”
     Above his forehead wrinkles, his glasses say, “Everything will be fine.  It always is.” 
     Cliff’s other hand is holding a copy of the Cliff’s Notes guide to Romeo and Juliet.  I wonder if I should tell him about Sparknotes.  I decide not to.   Instead, I thank him for the Hillegass endowment that helps fund the  Nebraska Writing Project. I say, “I might not even be on this path if it  weren’t for you.” 
     His eyebrow looks doubtful. 
     “Well, thanks for the nudge, then,” I say. 
     At that, he seems to lean back and relax into the bench. 
     The little plaque next to him says that the sculpture is called, “Romance: A Portrait of Cliff Hillegass.” 
     I think Cliff Hillegass is romancing me. Or I am romancing him.  Or the marathon is romancing us both.

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