16 July 2010

A Friday for Poetry

I won't blather on about how once upon a time I was a poetry fanatic or how I went to graduate school to learn the craft of writing poems. I haven't written a poem in two years. When I recently sat down to write one, I wrote two terrible lines and immediately deleted them. I quickly realized that if I ever want to write poetry again I need to spend more time reading it and, more importantly, listening to it.

So I wrote a little essay about why poetry should be read and heard and appreciated for its beauty. You can read it on The Curator this week.

And while you're at it, here's a poem for you. Enjoy!

"How to Be a Poet" by Wendell Berry

Make a place to sit down.
Sit down. Be quiet.
You must depend upon
affection, reading, knowledge,
skill—more of each
than you have—inspiration,
work, growing older, patience,
for patience joins time
to eternity. Any readers
who like your poems,
doubt their judgment.

Breathe with unconditional breath
the unconditioned air.
Shun electric wire.
Communicate slowly. Live
a three-dimensioned life;
stay away from screens.
Stay away from anything
that obscures the place it is in.
There are no unsacred places;
there are only sacred places
and desecrated places.

Accept what comes from silence.
Make the best you can of it.
Of the little words that come
out of the silence, like prayers
prayed back to the one who prays,
make a poem that does not disturb
the silence from which it came.

1 comment:

Ephraim Mallery said...

What a delicious poem. I am so glad I stumbled on it. I think I'll add it to the other one that I keep close to my computer for inspiration. Which I thought I would share here:

Early Hours

The early hours of the morning; you still aren't writing
(rather, you aren't even trying), you just read lazily.
Everything is idle, quiet, full as if
it were a gift from the muse of sluggishness,

just as earlier, in childhood, on vacation, when a colored
map was slowly scrutinized before a trip, a map
promising so much, deep ponds in the forest
like glittering butterfly eyes, mountain meadows drowning in sharp grass;

or the moment before sleep, when no dreams have appeared,
but they whisper their approach from all parts of the world,
their march, their pilgrimage, their vigil at the sickbed
(grown sick of wakefulness), and the quickening among medieval figures

compressed in endless stasis over the cathedral:
the early hours of morning, silence--
you aren't writing,
you still understand much.
Joy is close.

--Adam Zagajewski (translated from Polish by Clare Cavanagh)

i stumbled on it in The New Yorker some years ago.