Mary Oliver (1935-2019)

Award-winning and much beloved poet Mary Oliver passed away this week.

Best known for her accessible writing style and attunement to nature, Oliver's work made her one of the most popular poets in the country.  Though she was not always critically acclaimed, her work nonetheless earned her both a Pulitzer Prize (in 1984 for her collection American Primitive) and a National Book Award (in 1992 for New and Selected Poems).  Often, her work focused on the natural world, but she also explored more personal topics, such as the sexual abuse and neglect she suffered as a child.  Poetry and nature were her escapes from this troubled home life, and she found solace in the work of poets such as Rumi, as well as in the lengthy walks that would serve as inspiration for her own poetry.

Oliver continued to work late into her life, with her most recent collection, Devotions, published in 2017.  In her National Book Award winning collection, New and Selected Poems, Oliver had mused about the meaning of life in the poem "When Death Comes":

 

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

When it's over, I want to say all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

 

Oliver passed away January 17th at her home in Florida after a battle with lymphoma.  She was 83.

 

Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver Cover Image
$30.00
ISBN: 9780399563249
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Press - October 10th, 2017

A Thousand Mornings: Poems Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780143124054
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - September 24th, 2013

American Primitive Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780316650045
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Back Bay Books - April 30th, 1983

Blue Horses: Poems Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780143127819
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Published: Penguin Books - October 11th, 2016

Thirst: Poems Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780807068977
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Published: Beacon Press - September 2007

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Dog Songs: Poems Cover Image
$26.95
ISBN: 9781594204784
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Published: Penguin Press - October 8th, 2013

New and Selected Poems, Volume One Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9780807068779
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Published: Beacon Press - April 15th, 2004

New and Selected Poems, Volume Two Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780807068878
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Beacon Press - April 15th, 2007