Friday, March 2, 2012

Poetry Lessons

I am a big fan of Mary Oliver's poetry. I learn so much from her poems. 


It doesn't have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch

a few words together and don't try
to make them elaborate, this isn't

a contest but the doorway

-Mary Oliver

I especially love the lines "pay attention, then patch/a few words together and don't try/to make them elaborate..." because it reminds me to keep it simple and just get what I want to say down on paper.  I tend to over-analyze things and make them more complicated than they are. That kind of thinking keeps me stuck not only in my writing, but also in teaching and in other areas of my life.

I also like the lines "this isn't/a contest but the doorway..." I'm not seeking fame or forunte with my writing. For me, writing is a doorway to learn about myself, keep memories alive, and connect with others. 

I jotted this list of  lessons poetry has taught me so far.
What I've Learned From Poetry

Be still.
Look, listen, feel.
Pay attention.
Say what you mean.
Speak from your heart.
Wait for the words.
Believe they will come.
Thank them when they do.
Tell your truth.
Take risks.
Make mistakes.
Learn from them.
Embrace your voice.
Embrace others.
Work hard.
But most importantly
Celebrate the joy!

-Linda Kulp

So what has poetry taught you?  Leave me a comment and share your own poetry lessons.

I never know how much of a poem I can print without interfering with copyright,  so you can read the last lines of Mary Oliver's lovely poem here.

Ready for more Slices of Life? You can find a plateful here.
Then head on over to Dori Reads for Poetry Friday.

Happy Friday!


  1. I love what you said, "For me, writing is a doorway to learn about myself, keep memories alive, and connect with others." It is a legacy that your family can forever keep. I have the same goal.

    1. I think it's wonderful that so many of us have this in common! : )

  2. Thank them when they do...
    Yes, I think I do thank the words when they arrange themselves just right in my head and then on paper. I love poetry.

    1. I'm always grateful when I feel like I've found the right words for what I want to say. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Linda,
    I love your poem, especially the line Celebrate the joy! Is it okay to copy and share with my students?

  4. "I tend to over-analyze things and make them more complicated than they are." Boy, that sounds like me! Your poem is lovely. "Be still/.../Pay attention" speaks to me because I am still working on these. I tend to rush through life and need to slow down and "be still" more often. Thanks, Linda!

    1. Hi Tracy- is sure is hard to slow down! Sometimes it seems like it's impossible to do, but we need to keep trying. : )

  5. I love the doorway analogy - so true, so inviting. And your words, "Believe they will come," are wise ones. So often I just find myself waiting, and it's that trust that helps me write. Poetry has taught me so much: how to listen, how to hold on, and how to not be alone.

    1. Thank you for your lovely words about what poetry has taught you, Amy!

  6. A beautiful poem from Mary Oliver. I had not read this one. I love the last line--another voice may speak.

    So many lessons. To be still and listen to another voice.

    Lovely post.

    1. Thank you, Doraine! I'm still learning those lessons!

  7. Thank you for sharing, Linda! And thanks for your list - I especially like, "Thank them when they do."

    1. Hi Robyn- the older I get, the more I realize how important it is to be grateful for the gifts we receive,and when the right words come, they are definitely gifts, aren't they?
      : )