At the recent memorial service for Hachette CEO Matt Richell, tragically taken way too early in a surfing accident, an extract from Raymond Carver’s This Morning was read along with a number of other passages from Matt’s favourite works. The passage from This Morning had been printed out and taped by his desk, the words which had inspired him so much in life now left to comfort those mourning his death. (You can read a tribute to Matt Richell here)
I’d only had the pleasure of meeting Matt a couple of times and didn’t attend the service but reading about it made me think about the words and images pinned to the cork-board above my own desk: the moments they capture, the inspiration they provide and the intricate ways in which they represent both my life and my writing
.So I’ve decided to use these words and images as the inspiration for a series of blog posts. They’ll be posted in random order with a brief commentary on what they are and why they’re on my board. I hope you enjoy reading them and would love you to share your own inspirations.
Three poems are pinned to my corkboard, The Journey and Wild Geese by Mary Oliver, and The Peace of Wild Things by Wendell Berry. I was first introduced to these poets many years ago by one of my mentors Joyce Kornblatt. Joyce is a writer, a buddhist and a psychotherapist and runs amazing workshops that put you back in touch with your creative self.
I discovered Mary Oliver while revising my first (unpublished novel) and the words of The Journey seemed to ring true not only for myself and my own journey through life but for my main character Stephanie.
I love the idea encapsulated in this poem of following our inner voice and that we are responsible for our own destiny. Oliver’s images and word choices inspire me to be a better writer, my favourite lines in this one capturing the beginning of change, a new realisation:
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds
The use of second person in The Journey and Wild Geese draws the reader in, as if Oliver is having a direct conversation with you. I love the sense of connection she describes in Wild Geese, the way we’re all part of the one world and a shared humanity.
the world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
It’s the connections we have with each other and with whatever unseen power is out there in the universe that I try to explore in much of my writing and Oliver captures it here so beautifully.
And it’s the way that Berry describes our innate fear of death and the way nature can provide solace and re-connection that draws me to third poem on the board. I love the strange contrast in the peace of wild things and the hope of the day-blind stars/waiting with their light
There are so many more poems I could add to my board but for now these are the ones that I keep returning to, all three of them potent reminders to me of the power of and beauty of words.
What words or images inspire you?
Please share your thoughts in the comments section.