My Chalkboard: Jane Kenyon



I love Jane Kenyon (who died in 1995). She was the first poet I ever connected with. This quote is from a lecture she once gave titled “Everything I Know About Poetry.” I believe it’s found in a collection of her essays, A Hundred White Daffodils. (But don’t hold me to it.) If you like her, I wholeheartedly recommend her Collected Poems, even (especially!) if you’re new to poetry.

  • CAQ

    I now want a chalkboard! My editor summed up much of this (in re: time) succinctly: be brutal. My cell phone broke last week and I have no plans to replace it yet, though I expect I will buckle once everyone in my life is crazily irritated. Right now I am enjoying it. :) xocaq

    • michaboyett

      CAQ, I need to write “Be Brutal” above my desk. Right next to “Don’t Be Ferocious with Yourself.” Do those things cancel each other out?

  • Felicity

    Agreed! I’m in a women’s poetry course this semester and she is one of my assigned poets. When her book came in the mail I couldn’t stop reading it! Beautiful. And this quote is a perfect creed.

    • michaboyett

      Yes, her poems are so approachable, but still sharp. That’s one of the reasons I love her…

  • Sarah Caldwell

    This Chalkboard series is one of my FAVORITES – thank you for featuring such beautiful and important words! :) (I’m going to feature these posts in my monthly roundup blog post :) I first discovered Jane Kenyon when I worked at a wonderful independent bookstore in college. (I think you would love it –Eighth Day Books in KS – classics, desert fathers, etc. ) Her words are so beautiful and inspiring – thank you again for these posts!

  • Jeannie

    When I read this first, I thought it said “Be yourself as much as you can” (rather than “be BY your self”)! But the other is good advice too! The only poem of Jane Kenyon’s that I know is “Let Evening Come” — but that’s a good one to know. I’ll look for that essay on poetry too.
    On that note … could you or any of your readers recommend some good books on the craft of poetry writing? I am reading Ted Kooser’s The Poetry Home Repair Manual, which I’m really finding helpful — but I would like to find some other good ones.

  • Margaret Feinberg

    Love that quote, Micha! And love chalkboards!

  • emily wierenga

    “have good sentences in your ears.” this is fantastic. thank you Micha :)

  • Katie @ cakes, tea and dreams

    I love all of these words. I needed to hear them. Thanks, Micha.

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