Thursday, January 31, 2019

Instructions for Living a Life ~ A Tribute to Poets of Our Time

Instructions for living a life. Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it. ~ Mary Oliver

January 2019 is the month when the world lost the voice that will always be Mary Oliver. The death of a poet, one of our time, always strikes a chill of fear into my heart..
I ask the question: Who remains? In compiling this writing prompt, I initially had in mind a way in which we could all pay tribute to a poet who inspired with her gentle wisdom and perception of the human condition, but we have been given the opportunity to do so already in other posts.

Then I got to thinking: Why do we only really Pay Attention to a poet's body of work once they have passed away? So I returned to my question: Who remains? Who is the poet - still living -  who speaks to you in a profound way? Therefore, for this challenge, I wish you to share a quote from a contemporary poet's work and write a poem as a tribute to his/her style, voice, themes, wisdom.

"I sometimes hold it half a sin
To put in words the grief I feel;
For words, like Nature, half reveal
And half conceal the Soul within.

But, for the unquiet heart and brain,
A use in measured language lies;
The sad mechanic exercise,
Like dull narcotics, numbing pain.

In words, like weeds, I'll wrap me o'er,
Like coarsest clothes against the cold:
But that large grief which these enfold
Is given in outline and no more.”

Alfred Lord Tennyson, In Memoriam

Here are a few poets to consider, but please feel free to choose your own favourite and follow Mary Oliver's advice: Be astonished. Tell about it.

Margaret Atwood

Jane Hirshfield

Robert Bly

W.S. Merwin

Billy Collins

Roger McGough


Sanaa Rizvi said...

Loved the challenge, Kerry!💞 I chose to go with Jane Hirsfield 😊 Happy Thursday, everyone☕

Magaly Guerrero said...

Kerry, this challenge had me thinking for a long time. Not trying to choose the poet, but trying to limit my choices to just three (I didn't even try to go for one alone) who really touched my life. Combining them in a poem that clearly speaks of how they speak to me was... so much fun.

tonispencer said...

I like this challenge a lot. Most of the poets I read are dead but I did come up with one contemporary poet I enjoy.

Kerry O'Connor said...

Good day to all! January seems to have been an exceedingly long month - of extreme temperatures on both ends of the globe. I hope that all who pas this way are doing well, and I am looking forward to the responses to this prompt.

Cressida de Nova said...

Sorry...I have just realised we are supposed to choose a living poet...
If time permits I'll write another one. Good prompt.

Kerry O'Connor said...

I am thrilled by what i have read tonight. Will be back tomorrow to catch up on all contributions to the prompt.

PS. Cressida.. I don't mind at all that you chose Bukowski.. what a voice for the post post modern age.. we all need him.

Jim said...

My poet will be Ted Kooser. U.S, he has had quite a past, Pulitzer Prize, 13th Poet Laraute, now Professor of Poetry at the University of Nebraska. He once taught public school. Oh, yes he grew up in Iowa and now lives in Nebrasksa, close to my birthplace.
I'll put a couple of his work pieces on when I finally write something for him. In the meantime you can google him.

Kim M. Russell said...

A wonderful prompt, Kerry, which caused a dilemma. I knew my chosen poet would be Carol Ann Duffy as she is my favourite living poet, but it was hard to choose a poem or a quotation as there are so many that I love. What made it more difficult was that I was out all day. Oh well, better a little late than never.

Susie Clevenger said...

Hi, Kerry, Thanks for the inspiration. I chose Nathan Brown. I had the privilege to attend a poet's conference last year where he spoke and I'm so grateful I'll be able to attend again this year where he is the featured speaker.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

A wonderful prompt, Kerry. I am away from home, and ill, but will be thinking about this and at least enjoying everyone's responses, if nothing else.

Margaret said...

Oh... I am so glad you offered this prompt. I love "Cries of the Spirit" a book of more than 300 poems celebrating women's spirituality - and I googled several names and was so sad to see how many of these women have passed away! Anyway, I googled Julia Alvarez and am thrilled to see she is alive and has a book "Homecoming" which I have ordered. I have been away for a few days as WE JUST BOUGHT A NEW HOME! We were renting for three years here up in the mountain. We will move into our new home March 8 and our back yard is the Blue Ridge Parkway - land that will never have a home on it and mountain views - I can't wait to share it with you all.

Anmol (HA) said...

Thank you for such a beautiful prompt, Kerry! It's good to realize and remember the poets who are still out there keeping us enthralled with their art and craft.
I'll be catching up with all the links today. Looking forward to getting to know some new poets and read how they inspired all of you.

brudberg said...

Sorry for not participating... I think the contemporary poets I read the most are online, but when I do write I think I would chose something by Carol Ann Duffy...