And I Don’t Even Know It

Today is for the poets. Because while waiting in the check-out line at the grocery store I flipped through Oprah’s April magazine and it is all about poetry and poets. Because my 15-year-old needs to write 4 poems for English and is overwhelmed. Because I am in awe of poets. They are not thinking–wow, this poem will make a great movie. They aren’t going for the NY Times bestseller list (well, who knows, maybe they are). They are doing, as Betsy Lerner (my hero and future agent but she doesn’t know it yet) says, God’s work.

I don’t try to write poetry and I don’t read enough of it. I think if I read more poetry it would make me a better person. I think it would inspire me and make me less jaded. I think I would have more to talk about at fundraisers.

There is a bookstore in DC that made me want to be a poet. It’s called Busboys and Poets. It has everything to inspire you. Great food, Langston Hughes roots, cool writing stuff to buy, books and more books, cozy chairs and couches, and a performance space where high school kids and local writers and poets and wannabes like me come to do or watch crazy slam poetry and God knows what else. I could live there. 

But, I don’t. In fact, I don’t live anywhere near there. So I am making a committment to read more poetry and let language inspire me and carry me over the rainbow or under the Troll bridge or down the path less taken. 

Here is my current favorite. Oprah features Mary Oliver in her magazine, which some of you might scoff at but I think it is very cool because Mary Oliver, a 70-year-old P-town babe is nothing if not the essence of spiritual grace–which sounds strange coming from me–a confused avoider of religion–but read her and weep. She’s the real deal.

Wild Geese 

You do not have to be good. 
You do not have to walk on your knees 
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting. 
You only have to let the soft animal of your body 
love what it loves. 
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine. 
Meanwhile the world goes on. 
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain 
are moving across the landscapes, 
over the prairies and the deep trees, 
the mountains and the rivers. 
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air, 
are heading home again. 
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, 
the world offers itself to your imagination, 
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting–
over and over announcing your place 
in the family of things.

© Mary Oliver. Online Source

 

 

 

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “And I Don’t Even Know It

  1. Susan

    Nothin’ up my sleeve… Love the pic! I remember in a workshop on the Cape with the wondrous Colum McCann, he said he always tells his prose-writing students they must read poetry, must read it out loud. Of course, he said that all with his lovely Irish accent, so it sounded at least twice as important.

    Here’s to Betsy Lerner. S.

  2. Everything sounds better with an Irish accent, dunnit?

    That’s a lovely Mary Oliver poem, too–great choice.

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