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

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Author, Barbara Kingsolver. Photo by Evan Kafka

Barbara Kingsolver discusses crossing genres of writing and her second book of poetry, “How to Fly (In Ten Thousand Easy Lessons).” A celebrated novelist and essayist, she says that writing is writing, and different genres of writing are different types of vehicles. Another way to say it: writing a novel is like a marriage, and writing poetry is like a first date. In an urban-dominant country this is poetry from the country, concerning rural life, rural concerns, and an awareness of non-human life.

Excerpt from “How to Fly (In Ten Thousand Easy Lessons)” by Barbara Kingsolver.

How to Drink Water When There Is Wine

How to stay at this desk when the sun
is barefooting cartwheels over the grass—

How to step carefully on the path that pulls for
the fleet unfettered gait of a deer—

How to go home when the wood thrush
is promising the drunk liquid bliss of dusk—

How to resist the kiss, the body forbidden
that plucks the long vibrating string of want— How

to drink water when there is wine—

Once I knew all these brick-shaped things, took them for
the currency of survival.

Now I have lived long and I know better.

How to Fly (In Ten Thousand Easy Lessons) Copyright © 2020 by Barbara Kingsolver. Reprinted courtesy of Harper Publishing.