Home / Columns / Poetry / ADVICE TO BEGINNERS


May. 20, 2012
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Begin, keep on beginning.  Nibble on everything.
Take a hike.  Teach yourself to whistle.  Lie.
The older you get the more they'll want your stories.
Make them up.  Talk to stones.  Short out
electric fences.  Swim with the sea turtle into the moon.
Drink wild geranium tea.  Everything that happens
will happen and none of us will be safe from it.
Pull up anchors.  Sit close to the God of night.  Lie still
in a stream and breathe water.  Climb to the top
of the highest tree until you come to the branch where
the blue heron sleeps.  Eat poems for breakfast.
Wear them on your forehead.  Lick the mountain's bare
shoulder.  Measure the color of days around your
your mother's death.  Put your hands over your face
and listen to what they tell you.

Ellen has authored 14 books, and has been featured in a wide variety of anthologies.  Her poetry has been performed by the New York City Dance Theater, Perks Dance Theater of New York, Minneapolis World Voices Chorale, and nominated for a Grammy Award.  She has traveled as a poet, speaker, and workshop facilitator throughout the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, and Japan.  She was Poet Laureate of Wisconsin from 2000-2004.


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