oliver (as in mary)

I mistrust certainty.

Mary Oliver has written a book called “A Handbook of Poetry.” I am currently having trouble with refining my line breaks. My tutor points out places where I’ve broken lines against sense and thinks I should be more capable than what I present to her. I’ve pulled out all of my books on writing and on poetry writing–half a dozen, at least–in hopes of finding some sort of explanation for line breaks that makes sense.

I know, I know. I am supposed to be well-versed in the iamb and the trochee, but there are times I fear I am deaf to the wonders of iambs and trochees. I don’t hear them, unless I count them out and I couldn’t tell you off hand which is which. What I hear, what I want to recreate is the sound of a voice saying these words out loud. And because poetry is an auditory experience for me (rhythm should be key if what I’m saying is true, but whatever talent I have in that respect is all inate and not intentional at all), the stanza breaks and line breaks on the page don’t resonate.

Okay, so what I’m confessing to must be that I’m not a poet after all. Either that or I need to get my shit together and be more intentional.

Meanwhile, back to Mary Oliver. I bought this book when I was in college for a poetry course and we were required to scribble all over the books. Our teacher would give us a reading assignment, and we had to turn our books in with stuff scribbled in the margins.

All over this book are my nitpicks with Ms. Oliver’s absolute certainty that what she says is poetic gospel. I mistrust certainty.

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oliver (as in mary)

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