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Blue Iris: Poems and Essays Hardcover – September 15, 2004

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press; 1ST edition (September 15, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807068829
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807068823
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 0.5 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #915,174 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Blue Iris fortuitously offers an extended sequence and new contexts for a writer whose precise eye and instinct for surprising images have made her one of the best practitioners of the lyrical revelation . . . Oliver's often quiet persona almost always rides a storm of discovery . . . Oliver continues to earn applause and admiration for continuing to provide redemptive mediation and supple praises for nature in a time when so much is under threat. —R. T. Smith, Shenandoah

"A thematic bouquet about plants and the creatures that live among them . . . Punctuated by illustrations derived from electronically scanned flower specimens, it is a handsome book filled with excellent work." —Jay Rogoff, Southern Review

"These 32 poems and four essays offer rich meditations on flowers in nature, showing how plant life reflects the life of the human heart . . . A companion to Oliver's recent Owls and Other Fantasies: Poems and Essays, this work presents poetry in free verse, which Oliver has perfected in all of its musicality and rhythm." —Library Journal

About the Author

Mary Oliver is one of the most celebrated and best-selling poets in America. Her books include Red Bird; Our World; Thirst; Blue Iris; New and Selected Poems, Volume One; and New and Selected Poems, Volume Two. She has also published five books of prose, including Rules for the Dance and, most recently, Long Life. She lives in Provincetown, Massachusetts.

More 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.

Photo Credit: Rachel Giese Brown, 2009.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Lila Hope on September 24, 2004
Format: Hardcover
A friend introduced me to Mary Oliver's work a couple of months ago and I couldn't be more thankful. Since then, her keen perception and gentle presentation of what's felt deep within have touched me like a friend whom one only wishes to have known earlier, much earlier. When Blue Iris was released I could hardly wait to open the first page; and it has answered every minute of such anticipation. The vivid imagery is familiar from her previously published work. However, what struck me the most is the sensitivity in each poem or essay -- so touchable that I found myself using care when turning each page. This book is wonderful to read from cover to cover, but also a delight if one is in between things and only has time to read a couple of pages. There is always something new in and between the lines to see, smell, touch ... and feel and dream about. and such connections linger even after the book is closed -- through these poems and essays, my heart feels larger and my eyes brighter.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Josephine on March 21, 2007
Format: Paperback
I first enjoyed this fine collection of poetry and prose at my local library. I was so taken with its gentle beauty that I purchased copies for my personal library and extras for gifts. This collection has as its focus the natural world: the minute details of sunflowers and grass, of birds and bugs, of smells and colors, of bounty and strife are revealed in utter simplicity. It is a celebration of renewal and faith consistent with Oliver's Pulitzer Prize-winning work.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Martha C. Bartholomew on July 18, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Mary Oliver invites attention, calls forth attending the blossoms along life's way whatever the terrain. As she writes her way into her own wholeness she assures me mine is possible. Being real with gratitude is what the Grand Mystery draws us into if we live awake.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Annette M. Henderson on September 11, 2009
Format: Paperback
This is my very favorite Mary Oliver poem book. I have several and this just takes
my breath away at times. My gratitude to her for sharing such soul beauty with us.
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