On a beautiful summer day last week, while sitting beside Flour Lake on the Gunflint Trail, I began reading A Poetry Handbook by Mary Oliver. Her reflection and instruction are both thoughtful and practical. And though the subtitle for the book is A Prose Guide to Understanding and Writing Poetry, her prose is so lovely to read aloud that often (much to my delight) it approaches the quality and grace of her poetry.
"Poetry is a river; many voices travel in it; poem after poem moves along in the exciting crests and falls of the river waves. None is timeless; each arrives in an historical context; almost everything, in the end, passes. But the desire to make a poem, and the world's willingness to receive it––indeed the world's need of it––these never pass." [A Poetry Handbook, Chapter 1, p.9]