“Poems arrive ready to begin. Poets are only the transportation.”

Oliver3So often, I see my students take an adversarial stance when they sit down to write. They use phrases such as “grinding it out” and “forcing it” to describe how they work. Sometimes that’s been my experience, too. But does it have to be? What if we looked at the writing process completely differently? The Pulitzer-Prize-winning poet Mary Oliver does. Her poem “Humility” (quoted above) describes being open to receiving. If she’s right, the rest of us might have it backwards: it’s not about us punching copy into shape, it’s about receiving the ideas that are waiting for us.

Mary Oliver, Felicity (New York: Penguin Press, 2015), 33.

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