In honor of National Poetry Month, I finished Mary Oliver‘s Evidence, which I’ve been reading in bits and pieces since October. I enjoyed it, but I have to admit I’m not really a nature woman. Still, I loved the ending of “Swans”…

What we love, shapely and pure,
is not to be held,
but to be believed in.
And then they vanished, into the unreachable distance.

…and the title of this short poem…

“The Poet Always Carries a Notebook”

.…and every once in a while, I will love one of her poems. There is one of those in this book: “I Want to Write Something So Simply.” Here’s the beginning:

I want to write something
so simply
about love
or about pain
that even
as you are reading
you feel it

Are you reading any poetry this month?

12 thoughts on “evidence

  1. Just last week I re-read Quenrencia, the Stephen Dobyn’s poem about a bull finding his place of safety in the ring during a bullfight. I remember feeling so moved by that poem when Pam read it at the ranch just a week after 9/11 when our emotions were all still raw.

    And Tuesday I sat down to flip through a book of poems with the 7th grader I’m mentoring, and the creativity and emotions of poetry written by at-risk kids completely awed me. Such truth. The book was called Paint Me Like I Am, and it was edited by Nikki Giovanni. Poems written by at-risk kids in the Writerscorps program. Really powerful.


  2. I haven’t read that book, but I love the passages you cited, especially “I Want to Write Something So Simply.” That’s what we strive for no matter what we write, isn’t it?

    I’m not reading any poetry books, but I do visit at least two poetry blogs daily. And I’m always looking for the poetry in prose, as I know you do from reading your blog.


    • Thanks, Linda : ) Be sure to find a copy of the entire poem because the best part is at the end. I wanted to print the whole thing but didn’t want to violate any copyright rules.


      • I did read the whole thing, Cynthia, and it was so perfect I cried.

        I see many of you mention quotes you keep on your desk for inspiration. I’d never done that until I read this poem.

        Do I tell you often enough how much I love your blog and the wonderful things you bring to my attention?


        • Thank you, Linda. I’m so glad you liked this poem as much as I did! I’ve carried this book around with me for months because of it. I put a copy on my desk too. : )


  3. I love Mary Oliver’s poetry, too, and I am also not a “nature” person. I like to use the term “indoorsy.” 🙂 Thank you for sharing your thoughts on Evidence.

    I’m reading Living Things: Collected Poems by Anne Porter and The God of Loneliness: Collected and New Poems by Philip Schultz.


    • Teresa, yes, I’m an “indoorsy” person as well : ). Thanks so much for sharing the two books of poetry you’re reading. I haven’t read anything by either Anne Porter or Philip Schultz, but I love both titles: Living Things and The God of Loneliness.


  4. Oliver, I fell in love with her as an English undergrad back in 1994. I wrote a paper on her and felt I “knew” her. Then, in more recent years, rediscovered her again, and now, as an older adult, realize how much more I still have to learn about Oliver. She is a Poetry Goddess.


    • Terresa, if you haven’t yet, be sure to read this whole poem. As I said to Linda, I was afraid to put the entire poem on the post (copyright) and I didn’t want to take away from the poem by only posting the ending. But, the ending is my favorite part of the poem.


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