© Rachel Giese Brown 2005

Mary Oliver is renowned and beloved for her evocative and precise rendering of the natural world, offering gorgeous as well as disturbing and brutal images. Her many books-26 at present count-are essential to a wide spectrum of readers the world over.

Alicia Ostriker praises her in The Nation for being "as visionary as Ralph Waldo Emerson," and among the few American poets who can describe and transmit ecstasy, while retaining a practical awareness of the world as one of predators and prey." In poems that are rarely populated by humans, Oliver leads us to ask what it is to be human, and to consider what the excesses of civilization have cost us. As Stanley Kunitz has said, her work is fine and deep; it reads like a blessing. Her special gift is to connect us with our sources in the natural world, its beauties and terrors and mysteries and consolations."

After a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, a Shelley Memorial Award, a Guggenheim, and an American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters Achievement Award, Oliver went on to win the 1984 Pulitzer Prize for American Primitive. That book was followed by Dream Work, House of Light, and New and Selected Poems, winner of the 1992 National Book Award. New & Selected Poems, Volume Two was issued in 2005. Oliver's most recent collections include Red Bird, an immediate national bestseller upon publication in 2008, and Evidence, just out this year. She has also produced four prose works, Blue Pastures and Winter Hours, a collection of prose, prose poems, and poems, and two books on craft, A Poetry Handbook and Rules for the Dance. In October 2007, Beacon Press published Our World, with text by Oliver accompanying a collection of photos by Molly Malone Cook, her partner for many years, and a pioneer gallery owner and photographer.

A long-time resident of Provincetown, Massachusetts, Oliver is currently guest editor for The Best American Essays, 2009.


Poetry Center Readings:

Spring 2000

Fall 2009


Poems by Mary Oliver

Morning Glories

Sand Dabs, Five






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