The awkward young sailor who is always seasickIs the one who will write about ships.
The young man whose soldiery consists in the delivery
Of candy and cigarettes to the front
Is the one who will write about war.
The man who will never learn to drive a car
And keeps going home to his mother
Is the one who will write about the road.
Stranger still, hardly anyone else will write so well
About the sea or war on the road. And then there is the woman
who has scarcely spoken to man except her brother
and who works in a room no larger than a closet,
she will write as well as anyone who has ever lived
about vast open spaces and the desires of the flesh:
and that other woman who will live with her sister and
rarely leaves her village, she will excel
in portraying men and women in society:
and that woman, in some ways the most wonderful of
who is afraid to go outdoors, who hides when someone
she will write great poems about the universe inside her.
By Alden Nowlan
Can you guess which artists he is referring to?
Answer: Herman Melville, Ernest Hemingway, Jack Kerouac, Emily Bronte, Jane Austen, Emily Dickinson
They are all artists who looked closely at subjects precisely because they were unfamiliar with them. Per David Whyte, Nowlan's poem is "encouragement to all of us who look at what seems like an unbridgeable distance between our present lives and the work we want to accomplish."