Thursday, November 18, 2010

Mary Oliver

This poet's name keeps popping up in print for me this year.  

First, in  the Globe and Mail article, Sneaking Poetry into the Office - the perfect waste of time.  Then Ian Brown mentioned her again in his memoir Boy in the Moon.   A few lines were quoted in Suddenly.  And now again in this workbook on Mindfulness.

Serendipity, or synchronicity? Balm.  I'm happy to have 'discovered' this poet.

Reviews  at the The Poetry Foundation describe her work as lyrical, ecstatic, and one of my favourites, "Blake-eyed":
At its most intense, her poetry aims to peer beneath the constructions of culture and reason that burden us with an alienated consciousness to celebrate the primitive, mystical visions that reveal ‘a mossy darkness – / a dream that would never breathe air / and was hinged to your wildest joy / like a shadow.’”
A prolific writer, she publishes a new volume every year or two and has won the Pulitzer and National Book Award.

I will need to pick up a copy (or two) of her books to keep me company.


by Mary Oliver

I go down to the edge of the sea.
How everything shines in the morning light!
The cusp of the whelk,
the broken cupboard of the clam,
the opened, blue mussels,
moon snails, pale pink and barnacle scarred—
and nothing at all whole or shut, but tattered, split,
dropped by the gulls onto the gray rocks and all the moisture gone.
It's like a schoolhouse
of little words,
thousands of words.
First you figure out what each one means by itself,
the jingle, the periwinkle, the scallop
       full of moonlight.

Then you begin, slowly, to read the whole story.


In this You Tube clip, Coleman Blake listens to her read and then comments, "I love those questions that she fills her poems with... and they leave me open, and empty, and pleased, to have no answers." 

Have a listen

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