Poets and Writers Respond
What Would Mary Oliver Do?
Mary Oliver wrote poetry with a clarity and a sentience that whiplashed me into an awareness I often missed. Her work is a direct arrow of energy. Her death also.
Last week I wrote a post called “What would Mary Oliver do?” I wrote about a dream I had after she died where I was sent up to the attic to plug the holes where the mice lived and stood there looking at them. I wondered what Mary Oliver would do. I invited people to send me poems. What she’d do. What they’d do. Some poems responded to the question, while most came from that arrow of energy that she was, the essential ephemeral nature of everything as it hits you and moves through.
Here are poems by Robbie Chesick, Dominique Davies, Bill Gaynor, and Jill Jorgenson.
For the sake of not forgetting: 5 bits of Venice
Mary Oliver died a few weeks ago. She wrote about fish, birds, trees, owls, snakes, dogs in a kind of ecstatic way. She said, “Ten times a day something happens to me – some strengthening throb of amazement – some good sweet empathic ping and swell."
I have brought her poems into workshops since I started this work in 2008. Students, teachers, therapists, doctors, chronic pain suffers, meditators, and ordinary folks I know have her words on their walls, on tattoos, in their mouths.
The other night, I dreamt the landlord asked me to go up to the attic to plug the holes in the corners because there were mice.
Venice is a walking and a water city. This means the person you meet on the boat –– the public transit everyone takes –– you will likely see again in the square. It's a small, social city.
There are 53,000 local residents.. Every day 60,000 tourists weigh down the island for a few hours, then return to their cruise ships and leave. This makes it a teetering place. I picture the island itself as a raft that tilts to take on passengers and again when they leave.
It seems like a precarious balance for those who live in Venice: to host with kindness -- as they do -- and to maintain some privacy and space and quality of life. They attend to us. Me, a visitor too. I feel I'm somewhere between tourist and resident. And for some reason, with all my attention, I want to attend to the place and those I meet.
Life Lessons from a Writing Workshop
“Happiness is coming for me unexpectedly from the sky somewhere over Thunder Bay, 1125 miles from where I’m heading, 10AM on the wing.”
A new poem in Queen’s Quarterly: “Happiness.”
Don't Be Superficial, Cause We'll Soon Find Out
“One key barrier that I identified in my writing process, is the desire for what I write to be perfect right away.” Samara Moore, Gradlife Ambassador at University of Toronto reflects on a writing workshop and its applications.
The Poet in Community program at the University of Toronto-- It's time to make the connections
Last summer I was invited by The Brave Festival of Risk and Failure at Harbourfront to write poems for people on the spot. About 40 folks came over several days and I asked what they needed a poem for and then I wrote it. And then they took it and walked away.
At the start of my shift on the second day, a man was waiting there, eager. No excited. So into it, it made me nervous.
The Poet in Community program at U of T has been going now for 10 years and yet this is the first I’m writing of it here. Why is that? I’m asking myself. And I realize I’ve fallen prey to exactly what this program was created to counter.