A new daily practice

Photo By: V.H. Hammer

Photo By: V.H. Hammer

Three weeks ago I started a new daily practice. I read one poem a day, Monday through Friday.

While my boys are still asleep, and after my husband has left for work, I take the first sip from my coffee and I read the next poem.

This new practice began when I went to my favorite local bookstore. I went all alone (imagine: all.by.myself), with our frequent buyer “reward” safely stashed in my wallet. On our last visit, we’d reached $14.06 in book dollar rewards. I kept the reward to use later because I wanted to make a purchase of something besides a Clone Wars book. Or, a Where’s Waldo collection.

I wanted this purchase to be something special. (And…I wanted it to be just for me.)

When I arrived at the Edmonds Bookshop, I was a little nervous. After all the build up, what book would I buy? I scanned the fiction shelf. Oy! A hard cover book is $29?! I couldn’t part with my precious reward dollars for a book that I knew I’d likely only read once.

Next I hit the section dedicated to the craft of writing. “No!” I told myself. “You have enough (dare I say too many?) books on writing.”

I forced myself to stay away from self-help. (Read this post to understand why.)

I stood staring at the spirituality shelf. In between a copy of the Bible and a devotional by Chuck Swindoll, I noticed A Thousand Mornings, a collection of poems by Mary Oliver.

I opened it. I read one poem and then another. I made myself stop after the third poem. I was hooked.

Being “hooked” by a poem or poetry hasn’t happened to me for more than 20 years. As an English major in college, I read many, many poems. I listened to many lectures about poems. I wrote papers, I analyzed, I dissected poems. I was graded on everything I said about poems. I came to hate poems. I haven’t paid them much notice since I walked across the stage with my diploma.

But these poems? They are different. And this Mary Oliver? She’s different.

She’s real and she’s amazing. Her poems are a gift.

So, every morning, while my boys are still asleep, and after my husband has left for work, I take the first sip from my coffee and I enjoy the messages and the meaning these poems bring.

As for the $14.06 in book rewards (and a little from my own pocket), that was money well spent.

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6 Responses to A new daily practice

  1. Andrea says:

    This is such a great practice! I have a hard time reading poems…I mean I love them, but my mind wanders…I forget what I’m reading…especially if I try to read a whole book of poem after poem after poem. This summer I started the practice of reading one poem as we sit down to dinner, partly to introduce my kids to poetry, partly to hear the poems out loud (they are so much better read out loud, right), partly to finally, finally read a book of poetry (The Poet’s Guide to the Birds) that I’ve had on my shelf for years. Now that school, and soccer, is in session, we don’t have as many family dinners, but when we do, my kids beg for a poem (and fight over who gets to pick which kind of bird it will be about), and when we don’t have time for a story at bedtime, they ask me to read a poem. Love it! I think my plan is working!

  2. AP says:

    I love Mary Oliver’s work. Yes. She’s very real. Do you know Parker Palmer? If you don’t, trust me, you’ll like him. If you do just that on Facebook, you’ll see that he posts great poems several times a week, with a few comments of his own reflection. Perhaps you can end the day with him (nice bookends). He’s a fan of Mary, as well.

  3. Liz says:

    Thanks for the suggestion, AP, I will check out Parker Palmer. Not surprised that you are also a fan of Mary Oliver. I appreciate you checking in at Motherlogue.

  4. Liz says:

    Andrea, I love your idea of extending this to the dinner table. When my sons wake up, I’ve been sharing some of the poems with them. (I think I saw a roll of the eyes last week.) Funny that you mention the mind wandering — I can totally relate. This is one thing I love about Mary’s poems (guess I’m on a first name basis now): they are short.

  5. Oh, I love her. And love that this has become a daily reflection for you. I’m becoming more and more aware of poetry myself and have my own favorites. Mary Oliver is certainly one of them. Thanks for a great post. And Andrea, thank you for the dinner idea. I have a shelf full of poetry books and dinner readings would be a great way for all of us to be exposed to them. Wonderful idea.

  6. Patrick says:

    As someone who has struggled off and on with appreciating poems, I love hearing of new ideas for enjoying them. And I haven’t read any by Mary Oliver, so I look forward to discovering her poems!

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