I finished reading Mary Oliver’s A Poetry Handbook (1994) a few days back. The book now rests on my desk, with many of its pages dog-eared and multiple lines of text underlined in different colours. (When I want to mark a portion of text that has had a significant impact on me, I grab the first writing instrument in sight. Colouring pencils, wax crayons and felt-tip markers are strewn around my home, by my little imps, like autumn leaves shed by trees upon a forest bed: nonchalantly and reliably.)
I recommend the book to one and all–poet or not. It is a quick read, which is a good thing because it will make you (and you will need to) come back again and again. As I reached the end of the book I was full of purpose, but self-doubt still remained. Then I read the following sentences in the final paragraph of the final chapter,
A mind that is lively and inquiring, compassionate, curious, angry, full of music, full of feeling, is a mind full of possible poetry. Poetry is a life-cherishing force.
I was moved to tears. I felt reassured: There is a possibility of poetry in all of us. I, now, also know why I want to write again: I’m seeking a life-cherishing force.
Is that why you write?