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Mary Oliver has been writing poetry for nearly five decades, and in that time she has become America's foremost poetic voice on our experience of the physical world. This collection presents forty-seven new poems, all written within the last two years, and each exhibiting the power and grace that have become the hallmarks of Oliver's work.
The volume includes poems on crickets, toads, trout lilies, black snakes, goldenrod, bears, greeting the morning, watching the deer and, finally, lingering in happiness. Each poem is imbued with the extraordinary perceptions of a poet who considers the everyday in our lives and the natural world around us and finds a multitude of reasons to marvel.
On the eve of the publication of her third volume of poems, Twelve Moons, Archibald MacLeish wrote to Mary Oliver: "You have indeed entered the kingdom. You have done something better than create your own world: you have discovered the world we all live in and do not see and cannot feel."
In the twenty-five years since, Mary Oliver has published nine more volumes of poetry, each revealing new aspects of our world, inviting us to pause with her and to see and feel them. In this new volume she demonstrates, perhaps more affectionately than ever before, "what it means to be human and what is worthwhile about life,"* or, more simply, why the poet wakes early. (*Library Journal)
About the Author
A private person by nature, Mary Oliver (1935–2019) gave very few interviews over the years. Instead, she preferred to let her work speak for itself. And speak it has, for the past five decades, to countless readers. The New York Times recently acknowledged Mary Oliver as “far and away, this country’s best-selling poet.” Born in a small town in Ohio, Oliver published her first book of poetry in 1963 at the age of 28; No Voyage and Other Poems, originally printed in the UK by Dent Press, was reissued in the United States in 1965 by Houghton Mifflin. Oliver has since published twenty books of poetry and six books of prose. As a young woman, Oliver studied at Ohio State University and Vassar College, but took no degree. She lived for several years at the home of Edna St. Vincent Millay in upper New York state, companion to the poet’s sister Norma Millay. It was there, in the late ’50s, that she met photographer Molly Malone Cook. For more than forty years, Cook and Oliver made their home together, largely in Provincetown, Massachusetts, where they lived until Cook’s death in 2005. Over the course of her long and illustrious career, Oliver has received numerous awards. Her fourth book, American Primitive, won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1984. She has also received the Shelley Memorial Award; a Guggenheim Fellowship; an American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters Achievement Award; the Christopher Award and the L.L. Winship/PEN New England Award for House of Light; the National Book Award for New and Selected Poems; a Lannan Foundation Literary Award; and the New England Booksellers Association Award for Literary Excellence. Oliver’s essays have appeared in Best American Essays 1996, 1998, 2001; the Anchor Essay Annual 1998, as well as Orion, Onearth and other periodicals. Oliver was editor of Best American Essays 2009. Oliver’s books on the craft of poetry, A Poetry Handbook and Rules for the Dance, are used widely in writing programs. She is an acclaimed reader and has read in practically every state as well as other countries. She has led workshops at various colleges and universities, and held residencies at Case Western Reserve University, Bucknell University, University of Cincinnati, and Sweet Briar College. From 1995, for five years, she held the Catharine Osgood Foster Chair for Distinguished Teaching at Bennington College. She has been awarded Honorary Doctorates from The Art Institute of Boston (1998), Dartmouth College (2007) and Tufts University (2008).
Praise for Mary Oliver's poetry:
'These are life enhancing and redemptive poems that coax the sublime from the subliminal.' --Sally Connolly, Poetry
'Mary Oliver's poems are natural growths out of a loam of perception and feeling, and instinctive skill with language makes them seem effortless. Reading them is a sensual delight.' --May Swenson
'The gift of Oliver's poetry is that she communicates the beauty she finds in the world and makes it unforgettable.’ -Miami Herald