Wendell Berry






I started reading Wendell Berry’s poem, “How to be a Poet (to remind myself)” because the title grabbed me. I mean, I can always use some tips on how to be a poet and would welcome any advice from Mr. Berry!  His initial words (and his wonderful matter-of-fact reading of them in the video clip) reminded me once again of the importance of just showing up to do the work. (Really, how many times do I need this reminder?! “Make a place to sit down./Sit down. Be quiet.”) Berry also reminds me how important and powerful it is to actively clear a space in my whirring mind and busy life–to  pay attention, to clear away the distractions and to listen to the silence and my own inner voice. (“stay away from screens/Stay away from anything/ that obscures the place it is in”)

And then these wonderful final lines…

“make a poem that does not disturb
the silence from which it came.”



How to Be a Poet (To Remind Myself)


Accept what comes from silence.
Make the best you can of it.
Of the little words that come
out of the silence, like prayers
prayed back to the one who prays,
make a poem that does not disturb
the silence from which it came.

I chose to share the final stanza of his poem, but encourage you to click on the title to read it in its entirety. If you’d prefer to listen to Wendell Berry reading this poem, click the link below. You can also treat yourself and do both!

To read other poetry, please go to Today’s Little Ditty , Michelle H. Barnes’ most wonderful blog. Not only can you access other poems for this week’s Poetry Friday Roundup there, you can also read her wonderful interviews and find information about her monthly challenges. What are you waiting for?  Click on the link!

21 thoughts on “Wendell Berry

  1. Amy Warntz says:

    I found this poem very serene this morning as I check emails, review lesson plans, and scroll through blogs. I needed to read, “accept what comes from silence”. I stopped, turned away from my devices and I could hear just the pitter-patter of the rain. Oh, how I wish this little reprieve could follow me all day. I wish I could be that poet for a day.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. paulabourque says:

    WOW, what a perfect slice to start my day! “How to be a poet” could just as well be titled, “How to live a life”. I am so grateful to have clicked on your post and receive this gift. Thanks for doing “double duty” today!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. dianeandlynne says:

    Thanks for this post. What a great reminder to slow down and appreciate the silence. Thanks for the links too.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ramona says:

    I loved listening to the poem read by the poet and seeing the picture of the poet standing in the wheat field. Thanks for this lovely moment of poetic bliss and introduction to a new poem.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is so beautiful. I haven’t written poetry in a long, long time. And I’d like to again so I needed this today. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. lindabaie says:

    I listened and enjoyed it, Molly. I just read Berry’s bio this week & found that he doesn’t have a computer, hand-writes or uses a typewriter & is worried because he only has two ribbons left! His work thrills no matter what the topic, but this is nice to read today. I have so much to do today including taxes that it’s lovely to think about relishing silence.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. What a treat to close my eyes and listen to the poem be read to me by the poet, himself. Thanks, Molly! But it’s not always easy to find that silence, is it? Never mind the external noise, there’s always a whole bunch of internal chatter going on. Working on it, though. Trying to “breathe with unconditional breath the unconditioned air.” Trying to be patient.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. jama says:

    Good to be reminded of this one again. Love “live a three dimensioned life.” Enjoyed listening to him recite the poem. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. This is one of my favorites, Molly. Thank you so much for sharing it today. That silence is so elusive, isn’t it?

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I can’t imagine composing my thoughts without a computer. They are so disorganized. I agree with the silence. With sitting down. But also, cup the idea in your mind for days, warming it like an egg. And a poem will be born. That’s how it works for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I like his line ” poetry depends upon affection, reading, knowledge skill.” Not sure about this line though, “Any readers who like your poem doubt their judgement.” Thanks for this snapshot from Wendell Berry.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. haitiruth says:

    I love this poem and have posted it myself for Poetry Friday in the past! It is a really great reminder of many things. Ruth, thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown.blogspot.com


  13. dorireads says:

    Don’t we all need this reminder? It’s such a beautiful poem. Thanks for sharing.


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