Drifting….with Mary Oliver

I wrote this paper a few years ago now in Rhizomes: Cultural Studies in Emerging Knowledges – but I’ve been returning to this ‘epistemology of wandering’ as evoked so wonderfully by Oliver’s poetic.

Ramble! Enjoy!

‘Drifting in the Weeds of Heaven: Mary Oliver and the Poetics of the Immeasurable’


Experimenting with Sijo

Last week I did an inspiring workshop with Mark Tredinnick – a whole day dedicated to listening to, writing, thinking and talking about poetry. He introduced us to the form of the Sijo – a kind of Korean version of the haiku. I think I may have taken some liberties with the form, but here is another I wrote today.

Autumn Morning

You don’t have to go far   to feel the kindness of the

Light      to sit in a well of quiet sun beside the rosemary, the

Crush of mown grass, the heaviness of spent lavender    nodding as I pass.

Thinking about Mary Oliver

Like so many of us, I’ve been thinking a lot about Mary Oliver since her recent death. Remembering how important and influential she has been to me both in terms of the craft of poetry itself and its necessary basis in a grounded perception of the world. Her work has achieved what I think the best of poetry can only sometimes do – to make us, the readers, sit up and take greater note of the extra-ordinariness of life which is embedded within the fabric of the everyday, to take ownership of the ‘one wild and precious life’ which we have, perhaps even to become better people.

A couple of poems, and lines from poems, have been coming back to mind. In particular, ‘Work,’ from White Pine (1994), for me, expresses so simply and yet effectively this balance between being in the world, open to seeing a pond, ‘catching the rain/on its broad back,’ and the ethical labour of poetry, what it might craft with ‘the linen of words/and the pins of punctuation.’

Have a listen: ‘Work,’ by Mary Oliver