Tuesday Poem: How to be a Poet - Wendell Berry

(to remind myself)


Make a place to sit down.
Sit down. Be quiet.
You must depend upon
affection, reading, knowledge,
skill — more of each
than you have — inspiration,
work, growing older, patience,
for patience joins time
to eternity. Any readers
who like your poems,
doubt their judgment.


Breathe with unconditional breath
the unconditioned air.
Shun electric wire.
Communicate slowly. Live
a three-dimensioned life;
stay away from screens.
Stay away from anything
that obscures the place it is in.
There are no unsacred places;
there are only sacred places
and desecrated places.


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.

Copyright Wendell Berry
Source - Poetry Foundation
Published in Poetry: January 2001

I love Wendell Berry's work and this poem is one of my favourites.  The lines that really speak to me are 'Accept what comes from silence' and 'Any readers/who like your poems/doubt their judgement'! The last two lines are so important: 'make a poem that does not disturb/the silence from which it came'.  If you would like to listen to the poet reading the poem, this is the link to SoundCloud. As for being a poet, oh, if only it was as simple as following a set of instructions!

The Tuesday Poets are an international group who try to post a poem every Tuesday and take it in turns to edit the main website.  If you'd like to see what the others are posting this week, please follow this link. 


  1. i haven't read enough of this poet (to doubt my judgeement lol) - thanx


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