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Arts Poetry

Mary Oliver: The poem gets written

Photograph by Molly Malone Cook 1964 from Our World by Mary Oliver

“It is 6am and I am working. I am absent-minded, reckless, heedless of social obligations etc. It is as it must be. The tire goes flat, and the tooth falls out, there will be a hundred meals without mustard. The poem gets written.”

Mary Oliver

Who needs the muse when you’ve got a proper habit?

Mary Oliver wrote over 15 poetry and essay collections over her writing career. Her prolific output rested on a simple rule of showing up and filling up the canvass every day.

But she was also jotting down notes all the time, out and about, in nature where she felt freest.

Oliver’s poetic vocation called her wherever she went, as she engulfed the world with an insane curiosity. Slow and deliberate, she let her notebooks bleed into the world.

Categories
Books Creativity Productivity & Work Writing

‘The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work and gave to it neither power nor time’

“It is six A.M., and I am working. I am absentminded, reckless, heedless of social obligations, etc. It is as it must be. The tire goes flat, the tooth falls out, there will be a hundred meals without mustard. The poem gets written. I have wrestled with the angel and I am stained with light and I have no shame. Neither do I have guilt. My responsibility is not to the ordinary, or the timely. It does not include mustard, or teeth. It does not extend to the lost button, or the beans in the pot. My loyalty is to the inner vision, whenever and howsoever it may arrive. If I have a meeting with you at three o’clock, rejoice if I am late. Rejoice even more if I do not arrive at all.

There is no other way work of artistic worth can be done. And the occasional success, to the striver, is worth everything. The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time.”

Mary Oliver, Upstream: Selected Essays (Amazon)

Categories
Creativity Life & Philosophy Quotes Writing

“Instructions for living a life: Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.”

“Instructions for living a life: Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.”

Mary Oliver