Mary Oliver was awarded the National Book Award for New and Selected Poems, Volume One. Since its initial appearance it has become one of the best-selling volumes of poetry in the country. This collection features thirty poems published only in this volume as well as selections from the poet's first eight books.
Mary Oliver's perceptive, brilliantly crafted poems about the natural landscape and the fundamental questions of life and death have won high praise from critics and readers alike. "Do you love this world?" she interrupts a poem about peonies to ask the reader. "Do you cherish your humble and silky life?" She makes us see the extraordinary in our everyday lives, how something as common as light can be "an invitation/to happiness,/and that happiness,/when it's done right,/is a kind of holiness,/palpable and redemptive." She illuminates how a near miss with an alligator can be the catalyst for seeing the world "as if for the second time/the way it really is." Oliver's passionate demonstrations of delight are powerful reminders of the bond between every individual, all living things, and the natural world.
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About the Author
A private person by nature, Mary Oliver has given very few interviews over the years. Instead, she prefers 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 many works of poetry and 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). Oliver currently lives in Provincetown, Massachusetts, the inspiration for much of her work.
Beacon Press maintains a Mary Oliver website, maryoliver.beacon.org. You can also become a fan on Facebook at www.facebook.com/poetmaryoliver.
Table of Contents
When Death Comes
Picking Blueberries, Austerlitz, New York, 1957
This Morning Again It Was in the Dusty Pines
Field Near Linden, Alabama
A Certain Sharpness in the Morning Air
The Snowshoe Hare
Lonely, White Fields
Hummingbird Pauses at the Trumpet Vine
From House of Light (1990)
Some Questions You Might Ask
The Buddha’s Last Instruction
The Hermit Crab
Five a.m. in the Pinewoods
Little Owl Who Lives in the Orchard
The Lilies Break Open Over the Dark Water
The Summer Day
Roses, Late Summer
White Owl Flies Into and Out of the Field
From Dream Work (1986)
One or Two Things
Two Kinds of Deliverance
1945–1985: Poem for the Anniversary
From American Primitive (1983)
Rain in Ohio
University Hospital, Boston
Crossing the Swamp
In Blackwater Woods
From Twelve Moons (1979)
Sleeping in the Forest
The Black Snake
The Truro Bear
Entering the Kingdom
Buck Moon—From the Field Guide to Insects
Hunter’s Moon— Eating the Bear
The Black Walnut Tree
The Night Traveler
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Winner of National Book Award
I absolutely loved this book. I really enjoyed reading it. I liked it so much actually because you didn't have to follow along with a story. You could read it whenever you felt and didn't have to worry about forgetting anything or remembering characters. It was a very easy read that I would recomend for everyone to read. There were some really good motivational poems in this book. If I could I would choose to read all the other volumes of this book for the oth book projects, but even though I can't I will definately read them in my spare time.
This is the first poem book I have ever read that hasn't rhymed. It's a really good book, as clever written as it is, it does get borring after a while. After you read for about 1/2 an hour, it feels like you are reading about the same thing over and over again. I would recommend this book however, because it is very well written and it is so out of the ordinary. Young adult literature is so stricken and rule biding, now a days, you would never expect to see a kid say "my favorite book is a non-rhyming poem book by Mary Oliver, and it sounds like this..." It is kind of book that has to be a personal choice of reading. It has no plot or set characters. You conjure things from your own interpretation of the book. You mentally take what you can connect with away from the book when you read poetry as literature. That is what I feel about "New and Selected Poems" by Mary Oliver.
I did enjoy this book and really respect Mary Oliver as a poet and fellow human being. The prose flowed very nicely as all great poetry should. If you enjoy poetry about nature then this is the book for you. Mary is a woman that views the Natural World in an amazing and different way. Read 'Mushroom' and you'll see what I mean.