Posts Tagged With: How to Be a Poet

A Writing Reminder – Courtesy of Wendell Berry

Is there a neat process for writing?  Something that could fit into a daily routine and be crossed off a to-do list?  I heard that ‘serious’ writers make time to write, sitting at the desk and honing their craft day after day.  So, wanting to be a ‘serious’ writer, this was my goal for the new semester. Wake up, write for two hours, edit, share it.

However, the last five weeks has shown this isn’t a panacea for solving writing roadblocks.  Maybe such a practice has worked for others and I should just keep on trying.  Yet, as I’ve tried to develop a regular practice, the time spent writing has dropped significantly and the heart of the content is slowly leaking away.  All I’m doing is trying to get a product out – and I’ve lost sight of the product.

It’s time to regroup.  To remind myself that writing comes not from a mechanical process alone, but out of the living of life.  Wendell Berry’s poem “How To Be a Poet” brings me back to this place.  Tomorrow morning I’ll return to the desk, bringing with me the sacred places I’ve encountered and the stories within them.

But for now, I’ll rest in this reminder and go for a walk outside.  Anyone want to join in?

How To Be a Poet
(to remind myself)
Make a place to sit down.
Sit down. Be quiet.
You must depend upon
affection, reading, knowledge,
skill—more of each
than you have—inspiration,
work, growing older, patience,
for patience joins time
to eternity. Any readers
who like your poems,
doubt their judgment.
Breathe with unconditional breath   
the unconditioned air.   
Shun electric wire.   
Communicate slowly. Live   
a three-dimensioned life;   
stay away from screens.   
Stay away from anything   
that obscures the place it is in.   
There are no unsacred places;   
there are only sacred places   
and desecrated places.   
Accept what comes from silence.   
Make the best you can of it.   
Of the little words that come   
out of the silence, like prayers   
prayed back to the one who prays,   
make a poem that does not disturb   
the silence from which it came.


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