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Mary Oliver (2006)

Mary Oliver

Mary Oliver

Mary Oliver was born on September 10, 1935, in Cleveland, Ohio. As a teenager, she lived for a brief while in the home of the recently deceased Edna St. Vincent Millay, where she helped Millay’s sister Norma organize the papers Millay left behind. Oliver briefly attended both Ohio State University and Vassar College in the mid-1950s, but did not receive a degree. She has resided in Provincetown, Massachusetts for over forty years. Her later partner, artist Molly Malone Cook, served as Oliver’s literary agent until her death in 2005.

An intense and joyful observer of the natural world, Oliver is often compared to Whitman and Thoreau. Her poems are filled with imagery from her daily walks near her home in Provincetown, Massachusetts: shore birds, water snakes, the phases of the moon. Maxine Kumin calls Oliver “a patroller of wetlands in the same way that Thoreau was an inspector of snowstorms” and “an indefatigable guide to the natural world.” Honors Oliver has received include the National Book Award (1992), the Pulitzer Prize (1984), and a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship (1980).

—Courtesy of Wikipedia

Mary Oliver was born in Cleveland, Ohio. She spent one year at Ohio State University and a second year at Vassar. Her distinctive poetic talent led to an appointment as the chair of the writing department of the Fine Arts Workshop in Provincetown, Massachusetts (1972-1973). Though she never graduated from college, she was awarded the Mather Visiting Professorship at Case Western Reserve University for 1980 and 1982, and, among her many awards and honors, she received a National Endowment of the Arts Fellowship (1972-1973) and a Guggenheim Fellowship (1980-1981).

The first of her several volumes of poems, No Voyage and Other Poems, appeared in 1963. Other books include New and Selected Poems (1992), A Poetry Handbook (1995), and Blue Pastures (1995), a collection of prose nature writing. One critic, commenting on her work, asserts that “her vision of nature is celebratory and religious in the deepest sense.”

—Courtesy of Bedford Books

Recommended Reading:

Mary Oliver

Thirst: Poems
by Mary Oliver

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