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Evidence: Poems Hardcover – April 1, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 88 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press (April 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780807068984
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807068984
  • ASIN: 0807068985
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 6.7 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #762,507 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Oliver has been publishing poetry collections since 1963, and her latest is gloriously alive, inquisitive, and welcoming. A prolific and cherished poet, she makes readers feel as though they’ve been part of the quest for wisdom and grace she records in her lucid, giving, prayerful poems. Oliver writes of meditative walks and moments of radiant recognition. Gratitude is the mode here, and sustained attention is the vehicle, as acknowledged with her signature clarity in two of many bird poems. In “Empty Branch in the Orchard,” the poet waits, year after year, for the return of a hummingbird; in “Snowy Egret,” she writes of one who “has come again to the shallows in front of my house / as he has for forty years.” There it is: what we long for, and what we hold dear. Within each lifting lyric, Oliver declares all of life holy. She affirms her poetry habit, “The comforts / of language / are true / and deep.” And she reminds us that, in spite of anguish and loss, “to have loved / is everything.”

Review

“A ‘nature’ poet in the league of Wordsworth, whose poetry is said to have inspired this volume. . . There is still almost audible excitement in her literary voice, but her nature mysticism seems to have reached a stage more of stillness—a quiet that is not so much a quality as a presence that informs most of her images . . . A subtle collection that sometimes teaches but never preaches. All the usual Oliver themes—the divine in the physical world, the importance of having loved, the power and consolation of words—are present.”
—Tim Pfaff, Bay Area Reporter
 
“Gloriously alive, inquisitive, and welcoming. A prolific and cherished poet, [Oliver] makes readers feel as though they’ve been part of the quest for wisdom and grace she records in her lucid, giving, prayerful poems . . . Gratitude is the mode here, and sustained attention is the vehicle . . . Within each lifting lyric, Oliver declares all of life holy.”
—Donna Seaman, Booklist
 
“I think of Oliver as a fierce, uncompromising lyricist, a loyalist of the marshes. Hers is a voice we desperately need.”
—Maxine Kumin 


From the Trade Paperback edition.

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

4.5 out of 5 stars
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See all 26 customer reviews
Savor them one by one like great dessert.
Cyn in NH
It is experience, thought, and feeling distilled as few can do so well as Oliver.
Lynne
Remarkable poet and I highly recommend this wondeful new collection.
Helen

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Lynne on March 14, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This newest volume of Mary Oliver's poetry is as good as any she has published. It is experience, thought, and feeling distilled as few can do so well as Oliver. She has managed to eliminate even more adjectives than in earlier poems. She can look at the complexity of life, including its pain, and still rise to praise.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By G. Matassa on June 23, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Oliver's poetry bridges humanity to the natural world in a humbling way that demands the reader to become cognizant of his or her vulnerability - the vulnerability that is often neglected in today's culture of convenience and disconnection from nature. She broaches simple necessities that we take for granted, such as water, and crafts beautiful and powerful poetry to demonstrate their importance and our absolute reliance on them. Life, death, the omnipotence of nature, God, and many variety of birds are common themes and symbols used throughout this collection to weave a powerful compilation of evidence, as its title proclaims, of our place in the natural world.

Poetry is a genre that I generally keep my distance from because of my own personal misgivings, but Oliver is one of the few who I am instantly able to connect with because of her excellent ability to intertwine basic human needs and experiences with the beauty of the natural world that so many of us often overlook. If you are a person who appreciates the beauty of a nest of bird eggs or a blooming jacaranda tree, Oliver's poetry will speak to you in a way that other poetry fails to do. She hones your attention on enjoying the moment and what is real and organic - enjoying the yellow finches, the mockingbirds, and even the buzzards.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Helen on May 17, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I came across Mary Oliver's poetry a few years ago and eagerly awaited this new collection. I think it's brilliant. I wasn't that impressed with her collection entitled Thirst. I found it a bit too religious. This one (Evidence) is a delight. There's a brightness and liveliness to a lot of the poems, combined with some very moving sections - I don't know how she does it but she can tug at my heart in the space of just one line sometimes! Remarkable poet and I highly recommend this wondeful new collection.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Patricia Kramer on September 11, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This is a book I want to keep by my bedside where I will see it and remember to pick it up and re-read the poems...to be reminded of thoughts such as this from "Deep Summer"

"The mockingbird
opens his throat
among the thorns
for his own reasons.........

Your clocks, he says plainly,
which are always ticking,
do not have to be listened to.
The spirit of his every word."
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Russ Mayes VINE VOICE on May 19, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Mary Oliver's poetry has an almost Zen-like precision as she gazes at the natural world. and the poems in this volume are no exception. Fans of her earlier poetry will still fine the short lines and vivid images that have made her one of the best-known poets in the U.S. Newcomers will find the influence of Dickinson, Frost and W.C. Williams to be quite prevalent in her verse. Overall, Evidence is an enjoyable collection of lyric poetry.

Not all the poems in this collection are destined to be long-remembered, however. Oliver can sometimes slip into a voice that tries to pass off familiar wisdom as deep insight. She can also be quite sentimental at times, though at other times her vision is ice hard. Her spirituality veers from the orthodox Christian to the new age mystic, but both are always at the service of an adoration of nature; she seems to me to be a pantheist in Christian garb. These issues, though, did not prevent me from enjoying the collection.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Judith Hyde on December 8, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I read one poem every morning and carry it with me throughout the day. Each one lingers, as if an angel were just behind me. I continue to be dazzled, filled with wonder at her ability to find the simplest ways to say what is at the heart of our experience of ourselves in nature. "First love yourself. Then forget it. Then love the world."
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Lindsay N. Bowker on November 4, 2009
Format: Hardcover
What she sees with her huge heart and wonderfully life embracing spirit she hangs gently on a framework of language careful not to say too much, add too much, careful to preserve the freshness and shimmer for us. Evidence is a celebration of the mysteries within us and around us even in ragweed, thistle or a little pine cone.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Carrie Kitzmiller on May 9, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Mary Oliver was a new poet to me when I received Evidence: Poems in the mail from the Goodreads First Reads program. Oliver reminds me of two of my favorite poets, Luci Shaw and Wendell Berry. Nature speaks to her and her love of nature infuses her poetry. The lessons Oliver learns in nature inform her view of life, love, death, and the world around her.

Unlike some modern poets, Oliver isn't in love with her own pen, and she doesn't use overly frilly or incomprehensible language - she simply expresses what she feels. I enjoyed most of the poems in this book very much, but as with any collection - whether it is poetry or short stories or essays - there were also some that just didn't appeal to me. Reading poetry is a personal experience - what speaks to one reader may be completely different than what speaks to another. So even though I only rated it 3 stars, I still recommend this collection - especially for those who are looking to experience some modern poetry that is simply, yet beautifully written.
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