Poetry Inspires


Rita Dove, an American poet and author said, “Poetry is language at its most distilled and most powerful.”  I think, as fiction writers (or writers of any sort for that matter) it is important to ingest as much of this form as possible.  There’s all this: the beauty of the language, the imagery, words meticulously chosen to create a moment, to create magic. Some of my favorite poets include: e.e. cummings, Pablo Neruda, and William Carlos Williams (and wow, get this: WCW wrote a poem for my husband’s grandparents called “For Eleanor and Bill Monahan.” He was also my husband’s father’s doctor. And his son, WCW Jr., was my husband’s doctor).

But my favorite poet of all time is Mary Oliver, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award. My friend Katie and I visited Provincetown this summer and we had hoped more than anything to bump into her during one of her early morning walks along the bay. No such luck… But just being there, walking the streets she walks, visiting the book store she frequents, made us feel closer to her and the world she inhabits.

Today, I wanted to share a poem with you by Mary Oliver. The poem may resonate because it concerns writing.  It can be found in her new book–Evidence.  Hopefully it will offer some inspiration. “Always be a poet, even in prose,” said Charles Baudelaire.  Here’s to trying…


I Want to Write Something So Simply

I want to write something

so simply

about love

or about pain

that even

as you are reading

you feel it

and as you read

you keep feeling it

and though it be my story

it will be common,

though it be singular

it will be known to you

so that by the end

you will think—

no, you will realize—

that it was all the while

yourself arranging the words,

that it was all the time

words that you yourself,

out of your heart

had been saying.



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