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Carry a poem or other piece of writing for inspiration

What do you carry in your purse or wallet? Do the contents include a piece of writing?

One of my writer friends carries a letter she received from a man and his wife who aren’t related to her by blood but treat her as if she is their daughter. The man wrote the heartfelt letter telling her how proud they were of her and how they read her writing and share it with their friends and coworkers. The man taped two dollar bills to the letter and told her to buy herself an ice cream cone. When I read it I wanted to cry, it was so sweet.

I’ve known others who carry love notes, a fortune from a cookie, and poetry that has meaning.

Poet Naomi Shihab Nye said at a 2010 Poets Forum presentation, “I’ve carried, for perhaps 30 years, a very tattered piece of notebook paper that says:

“Philip Levine has described the muse as ‘being the portion of the self that largely lives asleep. Being inspired is really being totally alive.’ He says that such a state feels a ‘little odd’ and also ‘delicious.'”

There is a hunger in each of us, says Naomi Shihab Nye, even if we don’t know it, for the deliciousness of reading and writing poetry.

Nye carries a poem by  William Stafford, called “The Sky.” Listen to her read it at If you were to choose a poem to carry, what would it be? Satisfy your hunger for poetry by reading What Have You Lost?, a selection of poetry by Nye and other poets.

Exercise: Find an inspiring piece of writing to carry and share when you or someone else could use a dose of inspiration, comfort, or entertainment.

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