Book Review – Foolsgold: Making Something from Nothing and Freeing Your Creative Process

Foolsgold: Making Something from Nothing and Freeing Your Creative Process

Susan G. Wooldridge

ISBN 978-0-307-34148-8

There is so much ripe and delicious food to be thankful for at harvest time. What Susan Wooldridge writes about in Foolsgold is a type of life harvesting. She collects, savours and integrates memories of her husband and the end of their long marriage as well as her late father, her beloved Poppa.

When she began writing the book, Wooldridge made a small collage box each day for a year using what she found on her walks. It was like bringing a journal alive – in small boxes rather than pages – and the practice offered her a whole new world of possibilities. Each chapter has a theme and some suggestions for your own creative practice. The next time you’re out walking, notice what catches your eye. Pick things up if you’d like and bring them home. The top of a box can be the frame and background for your daily collage. Or you can make it as small as a matchbox. The collage in a box becomes a container, "a framework in which creativity can come forth with controlled abandon”, Wooldrige writes.

For Wooldridge, a journal is her "centering place” and she highly recommends journaling to slow a "spinning mind”. I do too! Wooldridge teaches workshops privately as well as for a U.S. programme called Poets in the Schools. The descriptions of her work at a juvenile hall for instance really bring the book to life. Wooldridge shares her own life experience with the young people and in their shared vulnerability and the chaos of creativity, a transformation takes place.

Wooldridge has such fun with words and word combinations. She ignites this enthusiasm in others. The expressive poems that result, from kids and adults alike, help them to catch a glimpse of a vision of themselves. "Mess around with letters and sounds you like”, Wooldridge writes, "borrowing from foreign languages”. (I highly recommend her book called poemcrazy: freeing your life with words as well.)

One can’t help relate to Wooldridge’s life, its delights and sorrows. Creativity is mixed in with all of it making the world your artist’s studio. Each small object in your path becomes part of a harvest of possibilities.

Mary Ann Moore is a poet, writer and creativity facilitator living in Nanaimo.