mary oliver says smart things


(Some quotes I jotted down on my phone while listening to the On Being podcast with poet Mary Oliver.)

You must make an appointment with your creative self. Otherwise your creativity gets tired of waiting around…or just gets tired.

If you’ve said what you want, by decorating it with more words, you’re not making it more intense. You’re repeating yourself.

You need empathy. Reporting is for field guides. (On paying attention to what’s happening around you and using it in your writing.) 

When I first wrote poems, they were rotten. But I kept at it day after day after day. Finally you learn things.

I’ve become more willing to grow old. (On what she means by “I’ve grown more spiritual.”)

Poetry is ropes let down to the lost.


I’m a baby in the world of podcasts. So far I’ve blown through Serial, season one of StartUp (and I’m up-to-date with season two), also listening to Mystery Show and Reply All, have rejected Call Your Girlfriend and Relevant, and am selecting a few episodes here and there from Spilled Milk and On Being. What else??? I’ve got a long commute AND I’m starting to train for a half marathon, so I’m all ears.




  1. kristin a.

    I am subscribed to far too many podcasts, and I don’t keep up with all of them, but a few favorites: Radiolab, 99% Invisible, Dear Sugar, and occasionally Judge John Hodgman though I’ve become a weary of it and can only listen occasionally.

    I’m with you on ditching CYG. I admire both women on the podcast, but I don’t really care about their conversations anymore.

  2. Lan | morestomach

    ^^^thank you for the response including Cheryl Strayed’s Dear Sugar podcast. YES. i adored her advice column/her book Tiny Beautiful Things, which made me laugh and cry and then laugh some more. i still talk about this book and man. that it’s now in podcast form. perfection.

  3. joannalinberg

    Thank you both for the suggestions and endorsements!

  4. Mandy

    Thank you for the great suggestions! I’m just starting to dip into podcasts. What half marathon are you training for?

  5. joannalinberg

    @Mandy The Healdsburg half (the one on October 11–they have another one later in the month). It’s been soooo long! I might be hitting you up for training tips. :)

  6. Andrea

    We have the same taste in podcasts :) Serial (can’t wait for season 2!), Start Up, and Reply All are my current favs. I’ve heard good things about Invisibilia, but haven’t listened yet. Good for you, training for a half marathon!

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