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Poetry Friday: Thoughts for a New Year

I hope everyone has had, as we say here, a good "slide" into the new year! 

I have so many thoughts at the beginning of this new year, the beginning of the third pandemic year that has so altered our lives: reflections about where I and my friends and loved ones are at in our lives personally as we start the year, and a patient curiosity to see what this next segment of time that we humans have arbitrarily defined will bring to all of us.

Last week I read Mary Oliver's A Poetry Handbook. In her chapter on "Imitation," she talks about how other artistic disciplines imitate past works as part of their education. How often have we seen artists sitting in front of a painting at a museum, sketching or painting, in an effort to learn through imitation how the artist created their masterwork? Mary Oliver says:

Before we can be poets, we must practice; imitation is a very good way of investigating the real thing.

She goes on to say: 

It demands finally, a thrust of our own imagination -- a force, a new idea -- to make sure that we do not merely copy, but inherit, and proceed from what we have learned.

This just reinforced my desire to read more poetry this year than ever before. Fortunately, one of my Christmas gifts will help me do that:

Each day before or after dinner, we are reading our poem for the day aloud. It's become a ritual that we all look forward to. I love talking together about each poem's imagery and language, its historical context, and the life of the poet who wrote it.

In addition to reading more poems, this year I'm hoping to put Mary Oliver's advice into practice -- to analyze and imitate more poems in order to add more tools and techniques to my writer's toolbox.

What about you? Do you have any reading- or writing-related goals for this new year? 

Thanks for stopping by today! Our host for Poetry Friday today is Mary-Lee Hahn over at A(nother) Year of Reading. Hop on over to the Poetry Friday roundup post for links to all the other poetic goodness that awaits you today!


  1. A Poem for Every Day of the Year is definitely a gift that keeps on giving, Elisabeth. Thanks for sharing Mary Oliver's profound words. I hope to 'inherit from others and proceed with what I have learned', especially when it comes to my dog's humor in poetry. :)

  2. What a great practice, each day to read a poem and consider it closely... I have yet to read this particular to order from the library. Thank you!

  3. Since I already have another "poem for every day" anthology, I guess I will skip this one, Elisabeth, but I did note it, perhaps for next year? I've read & re-read Oliver's Handbook, seems as if she speaks to me & then I know that it's wonderful how her words are speaking to every one of us. It's a gift that keeps on giving. Thanks for sharing today!

  4. I do need to read more poems and your book and idea lends itself to that goal. You've inspired me!

  5. Thanks for this inspiriting, Elisabeth! I also think emulating styles and reading more teach so much and there is so much I want to learn!

  6. I love this new ritual of yours! I'm being a bit curmudgeonly about goals and resolutions and even picking OLW this year. I'm just not feeling it. I will read lots and write lots and do lots of cooking and creating, but I'm not going to put a number on any of it!!

  7. You are an inspiration! I have been following my nose and going where my interest leads me. I'm late to knowing poets. I wish I had been exposed to more as a child and young person.

  8. I also don't want to put many expectations on myself, though I have some and hope to move on them in both painting and writing—teaching and prep for teaching takes up much of my time. Mary Oliver is a favorite of mine, thanks for sharing her words and thoughts, and the poetry anthology too!

  9. Thank you for reminding us of Mary Oliver's wisdom. I love that you are reading a poem at the dinner table.

  10. Okay, I'll just come out and say it: I hate that my family would not be down for reading a poem a day before dinner. I hate that I am the only one who really wants to hear a poem, although I can impose upon my family to listen out of care for me--never for the poem. Sorry to rain on this lovely parade; I would like to get my hands on that book, and thank you for sharing!

  11. What a lovely practice of reading a poem at dinner. Mary Oliver is such a source of encouragement and inspiration. One of my goals is to write more poetry this year, too. I always marvel at Jane Yolen's ability to crank out at least one poem a day. I'm aiming for three per week.

  12. Happy New Year and thanks for a great post!

  13. I love Mary Oliver's work, though this book felt like it was written a bit grudgingly to me! Still, great goal to read more poetry. I am thinking about my writing and poetry goals for 2022 this weekend. I'm behind, obviously!

  14. I love your new practice. What a way to really digest poetry. And I look forward to seeing the new poetry that grows from this.

  15. I think that's why I love the PF community (and why I miss it so much, when life gets so busy!) - that inspiration that comes from each other's play with words. We learn so much from each other.

  16. I have so much love for reading a poem or a few out loud. My husbands reads poetry to me & I read to him. I feel very very lucky. Appreciations for sharing this bright almost folkloric style lovely cover - it makes me feel something wonderful is inside. on To Read list. Happy January!


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