Monday, December 17, 2012

A Poem for Writers (and a mini-break)

The holidays are upon us! After contemplating an in-depth post on filmic structure for novel writing  today, I realized I'm all wound up in holiday planning already instead. I'm guessing most of you are, too, so maybe we all need a little less intensity and a little more ahhhh to ease us into the holiday spirit. I discovered some of that feeling in a wonderful book I found as a Christmas gift for a friend.

Did you know that Ursula K. Le Guin, whose name is tops in the world of science fiction writing, is a poet? I did not. People who've never read science fiction but are interested (like me) are often told to start with Le Guin because she's such a fabulous writer.

It turns out she's always been a poet. That was her first love. She started writing fiction—short stories—many years ago, and was submitting them absolutely everywhere after much trial and tribulation trying to get them published. She got scooped up by a magazine that was publishing science fiction. She's reported to have been stunned, because she never ever thought of her work as science fiction. That, apparently, was the beginning of what became her fabled career as a novelist in the male-dominated science fiction field.

Okay, that's the background as I know it. Those of you who know more about Ursula K. Le Guin, please chime in and add on or correct me if I've gone askew.

To get back to the writers' poem, I was in Barnes & Noble the other day, perusing various shelves for Christmas gifts. (I love brick-and-mortar bookstores.) Le Guin's name caught my eye on an attractive book of poetry. I picked it up, opened it randomly and read, and knew I had to have that book. It's called Finding My Elegy. (I'm keeping this copy . . . will have to get another for my friend.)

Here, from this volume (p. 113), is a poem written for and about us.


Fortunate those who fill their hands
with stuff of the imagined thing
to shape the cup, the carven bird;
whose fingers strike from key or string
the ringing, single-complex chord,
actual, heard.
                      A writer's work
is with the insubstantial word,
the image that can only find
its being in another's mind.
We work with water, with the wind,
we make and hold no thing at all.
All we can ever shape or sing
the tremor of an untouched string,
a shift of shadows on the wall.

Happy Holidays, everyone.  I'll be taking a mini-break from blogging this coming three weeks. See you back here the week of January 7!


  1. I love that poem, thanks for sharing. I must check her out now :-D

  2. Thanks for the poem, Linda. I had no idea she was a poet. Happy Holidays!

  3. I did not know that Ursula K. Le Guin wrote poetry. How wonderful!!! Happy Holidays and enjoy the break!

    1. She's pretty great, you'd like her poetry. Thanks for the good wishes. Same to you!

  4. I did know that actually. And wow, she's quite good. It makes sense, her writing is beautiful and almost lyrical. The two go hand in hand! Happy holidays and have a great blogging break!

    1. Happy Holidays to you, too, Heather, and thanks.

  5. Congratulations, Linda, you're a winner of a paperback copy of HOW TO BE A WRITER IN THE E-AGE..AND KEEP YOUR E-SANITY. Contact Catherine Ryan Hyde through her blog at to get your copy.

    Lovely poem. I LOVE Ursula LeGuin! Happy holidays.

    1. Fantastic, Anne, thanks! I'll head over there now.

  6. WOW, Congrats on winning the paperback above! A good start to the new year Linda. I came by to say hello and offer my best wishes for a wonderful 2013!

    1. Thank you, Denise, and best wishes to YOU in this new year! May it be a good one for us all.