The bells rang rang this week when I discovered the poet Mary Oliver. Stunned and filled and fed, I sat reading her New and Selected Poems, the collection that won the National Book Award. I’ve been thinking for some time of writing poetry more seriously, but my poems seemed too simple and narrative, not complex or abstract enough. Reading Mary Oliver was not only a revelation, but permission to be the poet I want to be.
This 7:30 BELLS series came from my solo trip to Italy in the late spring of 2012, where I was on fire to the bone and dashed out poem after poem. (more on that here). I came home determined to Vivere e Scrivere—to live and to write. When I read Oliver’s poem SOMETIMES (in the collection RED BIRD), she stated that so beautifully and succinctly.
“Instructions for living a life:
Tell about it.”
That's exactly how I want to live. You’ll notice Oliver does not add, “Have a multitude of readers, ” after "Tell about it."
So I will be writing more poems, telling about what astonishes me. Whether anyone ever reads them has nothing to do with living.
LORE OF THE BELL
Vivere e Scrivere