Beginning with her first poetry book in 1963, Oliver has chronicled her enthrallment to the living world, especially the land and sea surrounding Provincetown, Massachusetts, and her spiritual evolution. In her newest collection, her compact poems are conversational and teasing, yet their taproots reach deeply into the aquifers of religion, philosophy, and literature. Some read like brief fables, such as when an old fox compares their respective species and tells the poet, “You fuss, we live.” A Bob Dylan quote inspires a poem about song, while a mockingbird’s mimicry elicits thoughts about authenticity and one’s true self. The crucial and moving poem “Hum, Hum” describes a scarring childhood redeemed by the solace of the embracing, living world and the words of poets. Oliver is funny and renegade as she protests cultural vapidity, greed, violence, and environmental decimation and ravishing in her close readings of nature, such as the resplendent “Tides,” which surges like the sea. Ultimately, Oliver warns us that “the only ship there is / is the ship we are all on / burning the world as we go.” --Donna Seaman
About the Author
Born in a small town in Ohio, MARY OLIVER published her first book of poetry in 1963 at the age of twenty-eight. Over the course of her long career, she has received numerous awards. Her fourth book, American Primitive, won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1984. She has led workshops and held residencies at various colleges and universities, including Bennington College, where she held the Catherine Osgood Foster Chair for Distinguished Teaching. Oliver currently lives in Provincetown, Massachusetts.