“The meaning of poetry is to give courage… (Keillor)

The meaning of poetry is to give courage. A poem is not a puzzle that you the dutiful reader are obliged to solve. It is meant to poke you, get you to buck up, pay attention, rise and shine, look alive, get a grip, get the picture, pull up your socks, wake up and die right. . . .

People complain about the obscurity of poetry, especially if they’re assigned to write about it, but actually poetry is rather straightforward compared to ordinary conversation with people you don’t know well, which tends to be jumpy repartee, crooked, coded, allusive to no effect, firmly repressed, locked up in irony, steadfastly refusing to share genuine experience—think of conversation at office parties or conversation between teenage children and parents, or between teenagers themselves, or between men, or between bitter spouses: rarely in ordinary conversation do people speak from the heart and mean what they say. How often in the past week did anyone offer you something from the heart? It’s there in poetry. Forget everything you ever read about poetry, it doesn’t matter–poetry is the last preserve of honest speech and the outspoken heart. All that I wrote about it as a grad student I hereby recant and abjure—all that matters about poetry to me now is directness and clarity and truthfulness. All that is twittery and lit’ry: no thanks, pal.

~ Garrison Keillor, Good Poems for Hard Times (from Introduction)

“What Gorgeous Thing” by Mary Oliver

I do not know what gorgeous thing
the bluebird keeps saying,
his voice easing out of his throat,
beak, body into the pink air
of the early morning. I like it
whatever it is. Sometimes
it seems the only thing in the world
that is without dark thoughts.
Sometimes it seems the only thing
in the world that is without
questions that can’t and probably
never will be answered, the
only thing that is entirely content
with the pink, then clear white
morning and, gratefully, says so.

 

from Blue Horses
Copyright 2014 by Penguin Press

 

Listen to Garrison Keillor read Oliver’s poem (via The Writer’s Almanac): poem starts at apx. 3:56

 

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This week of Words is being hosted by poet Brian Dean Powers. We hope you enjoy his selections. Brian shares his poetry at The Body’s Heated Speech. I hope you will stop by to say hello. Thank you, Brian, for your support and for the beautiful Words. ~ Christy

“I went up in the ferris wheel for a last ride …

London Eye by Mary Pierce From Mary's flash fiction piece: "Until a tiny thing trips you up"
London Eye by Mary Pierce
From Mary’s flash fiction piece: “Until a tiny thing trips you up

 

“I went up in the ferris wheel for a last ride before being thrown into seventh grade. It went up into the stars and fell back to earth and rose again, and I had a magnificent vision, or think I did, though it’s hard to remember if it was that year with the chocolate cake or the next one with the pigs getting loose. The ferris wheel is the same year after year. it’s like all one ride to me: we go up and I think of people I knew who are dead and I smell fall in the air, manure, corn dogs, and we drop down into blazing light and blaring music. Every summer I’m a little bigger, but riding the ferris wheel, I feel the same as ever, I feel eternal. The combination of cotton candy, corn dogs, diesel smoke, and sawdust, in a hot dark summer night, it never changes, not an inch. The wheel carries us up high, high, high, and stops, and we sit swaying, creaking, in the dark, on the verge of death. You can see death from here. The wind blows from the northwest, from the farm school in Saint Anthony Park, a chilly wind with traces of pigs and sheep in it. This is my vision: little kids holding on to their daddy’s hand, and he is me. He looks down on them with love and buys them another corn dog. They are worried they will lose him, they hang on to his leg with one hand, eat with the other. This vision is unbearably wonderful. Then the wheel brings me down to the ground. We get off and other people get on. Thank you, dear God, for this good life and forgive us if we do not love it enough.”

~ Garrison Keillor, Leaving Home

Hi Mary! Thanks to your piece for inspiring today’s quote.