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I Want to Write With a Simplicity That Says Everything

This week, I’m taking a little break from my normal work. I’m hoping to get out of the whitewater long enough to let things settle inwardly — and, if I’m lucky, to find a poem or two down there that’s worthy of being written.

I already count myself lucky because I found the poem below just when I needed it. Here, one of my favorite poets reflects on the kind of poems she wants to write and, in the process, creates a beautiful poem.

I know I’m not alone in treasuring Mary Oliver’s poetry. And I suspect I’m not alone in wanting and needing to write poetry of my own. No matter which category you’re in, I hope you’ll find as much insight and guidance here as I do.

by Mary Oliver

I want to make poems that say right out, plainly,
what I mean, that don’t go looking for the
laces of elaboration, puffed sleeves. I want to
keep close and use often words like
heavy, heart, joy, soon, and to cherish
the question mark and her bold sister

the dash …

(Excerpted from New and Selected Poems: Volume Two. Read the full poem here.)

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