I’ve always wanted to write poems and nothing else.
Coming in whispers that speak to that child that lurks within
the one that plays in grassy fields and kisses the sweet spring wind
she who laughs at chickadees and muses with birds
Quietly knocking one over the head with her simple earthy words.
I have been literally brought to tears on more than one occasion by this immensely talented writer and poet.
Mary Oliver is an artist who more than paints pictures with words. She illustrates profound feeling in vivid and not so vivid colors and hues. They hit me deep down in my soul.
Never before have I so connected with another’s words. It reinforces to me the greater connection we all have with each other and our beautiful planet.
What follows are some of my favorite quotes by this Pulitzer Prize winner.
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
“Instructions for living a life. Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.”
There is nothing better than work. Work is also play; children know that. Children play earnestly as if it were work. But people grow up, and they work with a sorrow upon them. It’s duty.
“I believe in kindness. Also in mischief. Also in singing, especially when singing is not necessarily prescribed.”
“Sometimes I need only to stand wherever I am to be blessed.”
Ordinarily, I go to the woods alone, with not a single friend, for they are all smilers and talkers and therefore unsuitable. I don’t really want to be witnessed talking to the catbirds or hugging the old black oak tree. I have my way of praying, as you no doubt have yours. Besides, when I am alone I can become invisible. I can sit on the top of a dune as motionless as an uprise of weeds, until the foxes run by unconcerned. I can hear the almost unhearable sound of the roses singing. If you have ever gone to the woods with me, I must love you very much.”
“Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable.”
“I want to think again of dangerous and noble things. I want to be light and frolicsome. I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing, as though I had wings.”
Yes…yes I do Mary Oliver… thank you for your inspiration.
Mary Oliver was born in 1935 in Maple Heights, Ohio. She attended both Ohio State University and Vassar College. As a young poet, Oliver was deeply influenced by Edna St. Vincent Millay and briefly lived in Millay’s home, helping Norma Millay organize her sister’s papers.
Oliver is notoriously reticent about her private life, but it was during this period that she met her long-time partner, Molly Malone Cook. The couple moved to Provincetown, Massachusetts, and the surrounding Cape Cod landscape has had a marked influence on Oliver’s work. Mary Oliver held the Catharine Osgood Foster Chair for Distinguished Teaching at Bennington College until 2001. In addition to such major awards as the Pulitzer and National Book Award, Oliver has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. She has also won the American Academy of Arts & Letters Award, the Poetry Society of America’s Shelley Memorial Prize and Alice Fay di Castagnola Award. She lives in Provincetown, Massachusetts.
“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life’s realities.” Dr. Seuss
I think my love affair with books and the written word started from the moment I held my first book in my chubby little hands. They say you never quite get over your first love and my first happened to be the words and through them the imagination of the one and the only, Dr Seuss.
Theodor Seuss Geisel or Dr. Seuss as he was known, authored 46 children’s books and it was he that influenced me more than any one other writer.
Of course he didn’t write “The Great American novel”. Most people wouldn’t use Dr. Seuss and great in the same sentence, but to me he was great.
The good doctor inspired me through his fantastic imagination and entertaining wordplay to become a lifetime reader and writer. It was Seuss who said it was O.K. to be different and that it’s fun to embrace our own unique selves. It was he that allowed me to give childlike whimsy importance in my life.
It took me many years to realise this. As children grow to adolescents they tend to put away childish things. I was in a hurry to grow up and so The Doctor and his wonderful world of books sat on the shelf gathering dust until I had my own children and through their eyes I rediscovered his books all over again. It has been only recently that I’ve noticed how infused with Seuss I really am.
It is a strange thing to admit but I am what I am and I really don’t mind if my sentences go on and on with lyrical rhyme and a rat-ta-tat patter…or how at times I will make up a word on the spot just for tricks. I have been known to repeat a word over and over because I like the effect. I enjoy thumbing my nose at convention. I think convention can be the killer of creativity and I try to steer clear.
I enjoy the sound of words, they way some roll off the tongue can be a thing of beauty. Other words have a certain look to the letters; a dotting of an “i” and the crossing of a “t” in just the right place can be visually appealing. Words are like spices to me; an almost infinite selection of different flavors and tastes. Some words can be quite melodic and burst onto the page in an explosion of color.
In the lines of my writing I see Dr. Seuss and a smidgen Poe; I’d like to think perhaps a tiny bit of Shakespeare with a twist of Lennon. There are many contributors and I have benefitted from them all. Books have given me the inspirational words of people such as Gandhi, The Dalai Lama and Thich Nhat Hanh. Science fiction’s Arthur C. Clarke, Piers Anthony and Philip K. Dick let me dream. Jared Diamond, Brian Greene and Micheal Pollan have made me think.
I think I owe some sort of thanks to Seuss and others who have molded and shaped me as a writer and a person as well. We are what we read and we read what we are.
“Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is more you-er than you!” Dr. Seuss
What book(s) or author(s) have inspired you? How have they influenced and shaped you as a writer? I would love to hear about it, let’s chat…
I must confess, I am a lifelong lover of books. Even before I learned to read I was attracted to them and it was love at first sight. I needed to know how to unlock the secrets contained within. Luckily I took to reading easily and it didn’t take long for the attraction to grow and blossom into full-blown love.
I am a voracious reader and I am in awe of the written word. There are only so many and every one is vitally important. It is in the careful arrangement of them that make all the difference. I carry these words with me as I traverse my life in this “interesting” time we live in.
Books are like old friends to me and at times they have been my only friends. They have seen me through countless waiting rooms and long bus rides. Through sleepless nights and lazy rainy Sundays, I have enjoyed their company and they have enjoyed mine. A book makes no demands. It doesn’t scold. It sits silently and waits to be picked up and read. I can curl up with a good book like a warm blanket and be comforted by the words therein.
It is not only the words in the books that comfort me. It is the books themselves. Each one has its own personality. I like the shape and feel of them. I savor the way the pages flicker between my fingertips and the sound that it makes. It’s an intimate tactile experience that could never be replaced by any electronic means.
It is difficult to describe the titillating excitement I feel upon receiving an eagerly awaited book by a favorite author, with the crack of the spine and the flip of the first page, a whole world spills out and my senses come alive with anticipation.
Books take the reader on a journey to countless places real and imagined. They can entertain and amuse. Books can inspire and give insight and knowledge that would otherwise be impossible to obtain.
Good books make me think. Excellent books make me feel as well as think. They have shaped me and have given me a deep respect and appreciation for life and all of its wonderous forms. Some have changed me profoundly and forever.
Books are a window into another universe where the possibilities are limitless.
I have favorites that change and alter as my life and love affair with stories and the written word continues. What these authors have writtten have not only influenced me as a writer and a reader but as a person as well.
Have you been shaped by books in your life? How? What books or authors have inspired you? Let me know.
For more inspiration check out my fresh quotes page for quotes on books…….and Happy Reading.