Poetry

Barbara Kingsolver – How to Do Absolutely Nothing

“Take Scrabble if you have to,
but not a dictionary and no
pencils for keeping score.”

– Barbara Kingsolver


Novelist Barbara Kingsolver’s poetry is as accomplished as any of her novels, and her most recently released collection, How to Fly (In Ten Thousand Easy Lessons), is a captivating read. The beginning of the book features a series of sincerely humorous ‘How to’ poems, which include How to Have a Child, How to Cure Sweet Potatoes and How to Get a Divorce. How to Do Absolutely Nothing addresses both in its form and its content a process of subtraction and minimizing that works against the pathology of constant occupation and distraction. This kind of shedding requires the effort of renunciation, or, alternatively, of giving oneself the opportunity to be without the imperative to do or to be anything other than a person in their natural state.


How to Do Absolutely Nothing

Rent a house near the beach, or a cabin
but: Do not take your walking shoes.
Don’t take any clothes you’d wear
anyplace anyone would see you.
Don’t take your rechargeables.
Take Scrabble if you have to,
but not a dictionary and no
pencils for keeping score.
Don’t take a cookbook
or anything to cook.
A fishing pole, ok
but not the line,
hook, sinker,
leave it all.
Find out
what’s
left.

Barbara Kingsolver
From: How to Fly (In Ten Thousand Easy Lessons)

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