‘I don’t usually like poetry’ but then there’s Mary Oliver

Day 23

Today was Level 2 prison writing day, and it was another amazing session. Unexpectedly, Mary Oliver was the reason.

Anyone who visits prison regularly will tell you they are awestruck by the depth and the creativity of some of these men. So why would they not be moved by the likes of Mary Oliver?

One of the many prompts I prepared this week for the Thursday morning Mid-Michigan Word Gatherers Writers was this one:

To be honest, I don’t remember if we got to it; but I brought it to prison Saturday. There was a different kind of silence that blanketed the white cinder-block room as the writers scribbled down the quote. “Wow,” one said. “Wow.”

We wrote to that one, and then before we parted I offered another one, my favorite.

They wrote this one down, too, almost gobbling it up, hungry for what it said to them.

I explained she was a poet. “I don’t usually like poetry,” a writer offered, “but this … .”

I’m embarrassed to say the first quote was almost an afterthought. I’m thinking now I took it for granted: just another prompt. Next week I will bring a handout of some of her work for the writers inside.

As with every interaction we have in life, you just never know how you’re going to touch another person.

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