Category: Poetry

What I’m reading #FridayReads

DSC_0195-2.jpg

〉 A Poetry Handbook: A Prose Guide to Understanding and Writing Poetry, by Mary Oliver

bought on impulse from Amazon when shopping for photo albums for Christmas gifts

* Mostly, I just want to give you quotes from this book, which is wonderful. It’s slim, precise, measured, and deeply practical: a book about the poetic craft, with useful examples to illustrate the vocabulary necessary to discuss a poem. If I teach again, I will have my students buy and read this book. I am only sorry I’m so late in finding it. Here is a taste.

I was drawn to this section because she speaks of meditation. It is a different way of looking at the practice:

“We experience the physical world around us through our five senses. Through our imagination and our intelligence, we recall, organize, conceptualize, and meditate. What we meditate upon is never shapeless or filled with alien emotion—it is filled with all the precise earthly things we have ever encountered and all of our responses to them. The task of meditation is to put disorder into order.”

Oliver is a believer in patience and will, time spent in honest labour. She quotes Flaubert: “Talent is a long patience, and originality an effort of will and of intense observation.” She says:

“What a hopeful statement! For who needs to be shy of any of these? No one! How patient are you, and what is the steel of your will, and how well do you look and see the things of this world? If your honest answers are shabby, you can change them. … You can attend to them, you can do better … When people ask me if I do not take pleasure in the poems I have written, I am astonished. What I think of all the time is how to have more patience, and a wilder will—how to see better, and write better.”

How to have more patience, and a wilder will….

xo, Carrie

Note to self

DSC_0255.jpg

A friend asked if I’m writing a poem every day, as intended. And no, I’m not. Mostly, right now, I’m journalling in a more traditional sense. But every once in awhile, yes, a poem comes along when it might not have before, had I not been considering the possibility of writing a poem every day. Here’s one I like. I wrote it on the bench outside my kids’ piano lessons, with two of them clamouring for snacks. So note to self — there’s no excuse, no reason not to try to write or to create absolutely anywhere.

 

Note to self

To write is to fear

Is to write against the fear, into it

Is to let the fear hover, to hold it while it vibrates

Like a trapped bird

 

To write is to be spurred by fear

Sent by fear, pressed by fear deeper into the woods

Not to go into hiding, but to seek what you’re tracking

 

To write is to track, not to hunt

Is to follow your quarry through dangerous terrain

Is to be wrong, dying on the wrong path

Thirsty and hungry and tired and wrong

 

To write is to meet your imperfect self

In an argument about annihilation, uselessness

 

To write is to find

In the woods on the wrong path

Your self crouched in the thicket

Watching this strange animal move

 

Like nothing you’ve ever seen before

Nothing you could have imagined

And you are trying to write its name

You are trying to send news of this animal home

 

xo, Carrie

Page 2 of 212