by Mary Oliver
Happy Poetry Month!
Wait. What? You didn’t know that April was poetry month? That’s ok. I didn’t either until I started working here. Poetry month is pretty busy at the library. We usually do a special poetry version of the Popmatic Podcast where everyone speaks in iambic pentameter.* Not being the biggest fan of poetry myself, it was never that big of a deal for me, but over the years, I’ve grown into a fan of certain wordsmiths.
My favorite definitely has to be Mary Oliver. I don’t remember how I found her exactly – I think it was in a workshop or something at church. But I have been in love with her vision and her words since then. Oliver has been pretty prolific over the course of her career, and 1984 she won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry with her work entitled, American Primitive. In 2015 she released Felicity – her latest collection of pieces.
Oliver’s work draws heavily on nature and nature-based themes, but what I think I like the most about her poetry is her honesty. Sometimes she’s able to get at the deep heart of a matter in as few words as possible. She also has a subtle sense of humor that can grab you unexpectedly.
Here is an example from her poem “Roses”:
Everyone now and again wonders about
Those questions that have no ready
answers: first cause, God’s existence,
what happens when the curtain goes
down and nothing stops it, not kissing,
not going to the mall, not the Super
“Wild roses,” I said to them one morning.
“Do you have the answers? And if you do,
would you tell them to me?”
The roses laughed softly. “Forgive us,”
they said. “But as you can see, we are
just now entirely busy being roses.”
I love it – there’s a good lesson for us all in that one. If poetry has never been “your thing” then I suggest starting with Mary Oliver. She’ll make the transformation to poetry lover almost painless.
*We have yet to actually master the iambic pentameter podcast. Sigh. But it’s on our To Do Lists – and at least we all know what iambic pentameter actually means, which I think is half the battle, right?