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The List – a poem for World Book Day

I enjoy Naomi Shihab Nye’s poetry. Similar to Mary Oliver she finds ways to bring to light things we often overlook and how we calculate the path we want to follow. This stands against a mindful, meditative stance that allows us to just be present to what our life is.

Grits and Grains

The List
By Naomi Shihab Nye

A man told me he had calculated
the exact number of books
he would be able to read before he died
by figuring the average number
of books he read per month
and his probable earth span,
(averaging how long
his dad and grandpa had lived,
adding on a few years since he
exercised more than they did).
Then he made a list of necessary books,
nonfiction mostly, history, philosophy,
fiction, and poetry from different time periods
so there wouldn’t be large gaps in his mind.
He had given up frivolous reading entirely.
There are only so many days.

Oh, I felt sad to hear such an organized plan.
What about the books that aren’t written yet,
the books his friends might recommend
that aren’t on the list,
the yummy magazine that might fall
into his hand at a silly moment after all?

View original post 21 more words


About ivonprefontaine

I completed a PhD at Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA. Previously, I taught for 20 years and taught for 15 years in a wonderful hybrid school. My dissertation topic and research were how certain teachers experience becoming who teachers. In teaching and leanring, I am a boundary-crosser who understands moving ahead is a leap of faith. Teaching is a calling and vocation to express who I am as a person. Currently, I am waiting and listening to what calls me next. I am an educator, phenomenologist, scholar, boundary-crosser, published poet, author, parent, grandparent, and spouse.

5 responses »

  1. I just read many of the classics this past decade–and the enrichment they added to my life/ worldview/ writing ability–well, this list is an imporatnt idea. Chilling, too, to think the “spine tingling” days can be so tabulated.

    In this sense, they all should be page-turners!

  2. drat–can you please fix that important typo up there…;)

  3. What a beautiful, empowering message – and it comes at the right time to encourage me to trust my own path. Thank you, Ivon!

    Much love,


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