Mary Oliver, the great poet is now no more in physical form on this earth as of January 17,2019. She leaves a huge void but in her wake is a monument of poetry and prose of her making. I never used to care for poetry. Poetry was presented to me in school like nematodes to be dissected in biology. I ran from them Then years later her poem, “Wild Geese” brought me to my knees. I was converted. Years later I am writing poetry. What power words can have!
Mary Oliver was a sage who connected the dots with spirituality and the natural world. The long walks she often took in the woods near her home provided much of the inspiration for her poetry. Those poems became the vessels of profound observations, questions, and ponderings and blessed the lives of many, including myself. She did far more than just visit this world. It is a better place because of her.
Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words.
New Year’s Eve I brought some poetry to a gathering to share. The hostess, a dear friend said “this group won’t go for that” but I read them anyway after the game we played. One poem was one I wrote myself, a funny one about aging. The other two were by Mary Oliver, my favorite poet, and appropriate for the New Year. I hope they were enjoyed.
Poetry makes one sit and pause as the words are distilled down to the essence of experience. It slows us down and makes us notice and savor the nuances of language. I think it’s sad that pausing is going out of fashion these days. I think that if everyone paused and read some poetry daily, this world would be a saner place.
Until a few months back I was writing poetry if- even one line- before I got out of bed in the morning. Before I went to bed I read some poetry. My days began and ended with a sense of groundedness.
I miss my morning poetry write and my bedtime poetry ritual that I began a couple of years ago. Habits sneak away sometimes but I want this one back. The little pink leather journal embossed with an oak tree is now filled up. Maybe that’s why I stopped writing- but journals are easily purchased. That task is now on the list for next week.
If you are new to poetry, no worries. My poetry habit started a couple years back when I, a non-English major, noticed I was more likely to write in my journal in poetic form. Then I started seeking out poetry that I enjoyed. (It’s a wonderful antidote to the news) If you have trouble pausing, noticing, or pondering, pick up a poetry book by Mary Oliver. She will get you out wandering in nature in the comfort of your own home. Devotions her latest anthology is wonderful. Here is a video clip of her reading…
On Feb. 21st I had the pleasure of watching “And Still I Rise,” a phenomenal new documentary about the life of Maya Angelou. Years ago I read & loved I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings & some of her poetry- but until I watched this program, I truly didn’t understand her greatness. This poem was inspired from this experience.