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Tippett: And it is. And it seems like such a gift that you found that way to be a writer and to have that daily — have a ritual of writing. The only record I broke in school was truancy. I went to the woods a lot with books. Whitman in the knapsack. But I also liked motion. So I just began with these little notebooks and scribbled things as they came to me and then worked them into poems later. I did this. I saw this.

Spark notes sonnet 27

And I think it worked. It enjoined the reader into the experience of the poem. I became the kind of person who did the walking and the scribbling but shared it if they wanted it. Tippett: I was going to ask you if you thought you could have been a poet in an age when you probably would have grown up writing on computers.

Tippett: But it seems to me that more than the computer being the problem, the sitting at a desk would be a problem. Lots of things are problems. As I talk about it in The Poetry Handbook, discipline is very important. And we have to have an appointment to have that work out on the page. Because the creative part of us gets tired of waiting or just gets tired.

Fernando Pessoa

And also when you write about that — the discipline that creates space for something quite mysterious to happen. And that if you turn up every day, it will learn to trust you. Oliver: That is the creative process. It wishes for a community. And you have to be ready to do that out of your single self.

Definition of 'poet'

But I mean, so if you — when you offer that, poetry does create a way to offer that in a condensed form, vivid form. But they do happen. But it does happen.


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Do you know which — do you know what some of those are? Do you know what they are still? Oliver: Well, the Percy one was one. And there are others. Of course, there are also poems that I just write out and then I throw them out. Lots of those. Tippett: And also, when you talk about this life of waking up in the morning and being outside in this wild landscape with your notebook in your hand and walking.

And, as you say, some things have to be thrown out. Somebody once wrote about me and said I must have a private grant or something, that all I seem to do is walk around the woods and write poems. But I was very, very poor. And I ate a lot of fish.

Fernando Pessoa (poet) - Portugal - Poetry International

I ate a lot of clams. And what shall I do about it? What is the gift that I should bring to the world? What is the life that I should live? But I wonder how you think about how that question emerges and is addressed distinctively in poetry and through poetry.


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  • But poetry has a different kind of attraction. But I do think poetry has enticements of sound that are different from literature.

    Literature certainly has it too, or some literature, the best literature. People are more apt to remember a poem and therefore feel they own it and can speak it to themselves as you might a prayer — than they can remember a chapter and quote it. You have it when you need it.

    by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

    Poetry is certainly closer to singing than prose. And singing is something that we all love to do or wish we could do. Today, revisiting my rare conversation with the poet Mary Oliver, who died this week. Tippett: I just love — I just want to read these. This is from Long Life also. And it is the theater of the spiritual; it is the multiform utterly obedient to a mystery. Oliver: Yeah. Well, you know, and it is. Even angels have a hierarchy.

    The world is pretty much — everything is mortal. It dies. Its parts become something else. We know that when we bury a dog in the garden and with a rose bush on top of it.

    How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. (Sonnet 43)

    We know that there is replenishment. Tippett: And again, do you think spending your life as a poet and working with words and responding to the world in the way you have as a poet gives you tools to work with? And also what one does end up believing, even if it shifts, has an effect upon life that you live, the life that you choose to live or try to live. I find it endlessly fascinating. And I think also religion is very helpful in people not thinking that they themselves are sufficient, that there is something that has to do with all of us that is more than all of us are.

    Tippett: I love that.

    This says it all. Oliver: I have had a rash, which seems to be continuing, of writing shorter poems. Oliver: It probably is an influence from Rumi, whose poems are — many of them are quite short. What else is there to say? But the poem is done. And St. Augustine, I just read a biography of him. He was all over the map before he settled down. I know people associate you with that word.

    But I was interested to read that you began to learn that attention without feeling is only a report. That there is more to attention than for it to matter in the way you want it to matter.