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Past, Present & Future Poetry

Poetry can hook the soul like nothing else. I love to read it and occasionally write it. I upload my favourite lines (and other quotes) to my Instagram account as part of a collection called Stillpoints. As always, I also enjoy reading about poets. Emily Dickinson is an old favourite. Her scarcity of words to evoke realisation and understanding of seemingly simple concepts draws me back again and again. Recently, I’ve also been reading and listening to Mary Oliver, Wisława Szymborska, and Amanda Gorman (how amazing was her recital at President Joe Biden’s Inauguration?).

I purchased Mary Oliver’s A Poetry Handbook in a bid to improve my own writing and to learn more about the art of expressing concepts with a poetic sensibility. Wild Geese, is a particularly moving work that asks you to step down, take a look at your life, your actions, your purpose.

Be brave, she says:

Tell me about despair, yours,

and I will tell you mine.

And understand that you are but one part of this world,

your part, live your life for you

and not someone else.

(Bonus reading of Wild Geese at the end of this post)

Maria Popova's Brain Pickings introduced me to Polish poet, Wisława Szymborska through readings of her poems, Possibilities and Life While You Wait. In these poems, Szymborska explores two of the main themes of life – its potential and all the possibilities that entails and the bits in between. We often mark our lives by milestones; goals and objectives that we strive toward thinking, hoping, that when we meet these pre-planned points in time, well then, we’re living the life we were meant to. Sometimes, in the excitement and anticipation (and planning), we forget or don’t realise that much of life is actually those in between moments. Our days are filled with mundane tasks, small achievements and coming togethers; the unscripted reality of life.

If only I could just rehearse

one Wednesday in advance,

or repeat a single Thursday that has passed! But here comes Friday with a script I haven’t seen.

Life While You Wait | Wisława Szymborska

Listen to Amanda Palmer reading: Life While You Wait and Possibilities Read the full poems while you're there.

Amanda Gorman hardly needs introduction. Still in her early 20s, I must admit that I am envious of her skill with words – writing and speaking. Her brilliant recital of, The Hill We Climb, on January 6 travelled the world at lightening speed and gave hope to millions.

At 723 words, it finishes with:

When day comes we step out of the shade, aflame and unafraid The new dawn blooms as we free it For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it If only we’re brave enough to be it

(From transcript at

I had goose bumps listening to Gorman speak and can only recommend you listen for yourself

Poetry expresses emotion, makes connections and gives you words turned into wisdom that can shake your soul and expand your understanding of the universe and our place in it. I so look forward to learning and reading and finding more.

And here’s the bonus reading of Wild Geese by Mary Oliver that I promised you.

Tom Hiddleston – Wild Geese


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