Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Soul Work of Poetry

Celebrating National Poetry Month

For National Poetry Month, you could do no better than to find any book by Mary Oliver. On this the last day of National Poetry month, here is an essay from The Tennessean, by Ray Waddel:

Poetry provides ancient, unfettered spiritual solace

When poet Mary Oliver comes out with a new book, I stop and take a look, not only because her poems are often rewarding but because her popularity says something about today’s shifting state of religion.

That is, I know people who read Oliver and other poets for spiritual solace they don’t quite find in church.

In her new book of poems, “A Thousand Mornings,” Oliver hears prayer in a wren’s song. She dreams of spinning like a Sufi dancer. She finds God everywhere.

In an earlier book, “Swan,” she says:

Inside the river there is an unfinishable story
and you are somewhere in it …

Her words look mortality in the eye. They find wisdom in the experience of aging. They urge the reader to claim a rightful measure of joy. They do all this without reference to creedal doctrine. I know people who want to honor the religious quest but not the unsolicited professionalism of the pulpit. They’d rather read poetry...

To read the rest of Waddel’s essay, go here.

To hear an interview with poet Mary Oliver, go here.

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