Mary Oliver, that is. A prolific poet, she is most inspired by nature, and walks daily for inspiration. 82 years old, she is still writing.
Insights from Mary Oliver:
Poetry isn’t a profession, it’s a way of life. It’s an empty basket; you put your life into it and make something out of that.
I had a very dysfunctional family, and a very hard childhood. So I made a world out of words. And it was my salvation.
I consider myself a kind of a reporter—one who uses words that are more like music and that have a choreography. I never think of myself as a poet; I just get up and write.
I love the line of Flaubert about observing things very intensely. I think our duty as writers begins not with our feelings, but with the powers of observing. [Gustave Flaubert— ‘Talent is a long patience, and originality an effort of will and intense observation.’]
It’s very important to write things down instantly, or you can lose the way you were thinking out a line. I have a rule that if I wake up at 3 in the morning and think of something, I write it down.
If I’ve done my work well, I vanish completely from the scene. I believe it is invasive of the work when you know too much about the writer.
I have a notebook with me all the time, and I begin scribbling a few words. When things are going well, the walk does not get anywhere; I finally just stop and write.
Writers sometimes give up what is most strange and wonderful about their writing—soften their roughest edges—to accommodate themselves toward a group response.
I believe art is utterly important. It is one of the things that could save us.
To learn more about Mary Oliver and sample some of her poems, see her page on the Poetry Foundation website
In the wake of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida, millions of students joined the Never Again movement, committing themselves to work toward the end of gun violence.
Whether that can be accomplished by tighter gun control or better access to mental health resources remains to be seen.
Like it or not, the United States has a culture of violence. We are bombarded with violent images, from movies to video games to social media to popular music. Our daily news programming is dominated by negativity spouted by loud commentators. This must change.
How do we transform our country into a culture of caring, of kindness? One person at a time, one moment at a time, one action at a time, one word at a time. Each of us must practice kindness, must teach caring.
Looking on YouTube, I found Ted talks by founders of many grassroots organizations trying to do exactly that–transform our culture with acts of kindness. This talk by Orly Wahba is especially eloquent, worth the time to watch. She says, “The more you give, the more you heal.” Kindness benefits the bestower as well as the receiver.
Impressionism was born in Paris in the early 1860s. It was a reaction against the realistic painting style of the time, which was almost photographic in quality, with a smooth texture, focused on details.
It could be said the Impressionists offered a new kind of realism. They took to the outdoors to paint, instead of making a sketch and bringing it back to the studio as a reference for a painting. This necessitated a different, quicker technique, where the texture of the brush strokes became part of the finished picture, and paint wasn’t allowed to dry before additional layers were applied.
Impressionist paintings are full of vivid color and light, even in the background.
Some leading Impressionists were Mary Cassatt, Edgar Degas, Edouard Manet, Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, and Pierre-August Renoit.