In honor of National Poetry Month, MontanaWriter is featuring poems about poets, poetry, and writing poetry. For more poems about poetry, click here.
Wendell Berry is a writer and an activist. He has written novels, short-stories, essays and books of non-fiction on subjects as varied as farming, economics, politics, and Christianity. Yet in the end, he is a lyric poet.
I have certainly not read all of his prose work, but enough to suggest that it is this lyrical/poetical nature of his that informs his thinking about and interests in subjects like peace and justice, Christian spirituality, and living close to the land.
Berry is ultimately a poet-farmer, a poet-economist, a poet-activist, a poet-philosopher, and a poet-theologian. In short, he is the kind of writer and thinker the world has too few of.
On a beautiful Easter Saturday, a Wendell Berry poem seems like just the thing.
How to Be a Poet
(to remind myself)
Source: Poetry (January 2001).
Listening with a pencil and my ear, these are the lines I marked:
Of the little words that comeout of the silence, like prayersprayed back to the one who prays,make a poem that does not disturbthe silence from which it came.
I like a number of lines in this poem. Yet in the end the poem builds to this long, final line. When I first read this poem I found the last stanza clumsy. Yet I read it again out-loud and came to like it very much. Over time I have come to love it. Silence as holy. Poetry as prayer. The poet as mystic.