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New and Selected Poems, Volume One Hardcover – November 15, 2005


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press; Revised edition (November 15, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807068780
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807068786
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (88 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #219,044 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

One of the astonishing aspects of Oliver's work is the consistency of tone over this long period. What changes is an increased focus on nature and an increased precision with language that has made her one of our very best poets . . . There is no complaint in Ms. Oliver's poetry, no whining, but neither is there the sense that life is in any way easy . . . These poems sustain us rather than divert us. Although few poets have fewer human beings in their poems than Mary Oliver, it is ironic that few poets also go so far to help us forward. -Stephen Dobyns, New York Times Book Review

"One would have to reach back perhaps to [John] Clare or [Christopher] Smart to safely cite a parallel to Oliver's lyricism or radical purification and her unappeasable mania for signs and wonders." -David Barber, Poetry

"I have always thought of poems as my companions-and like companions, they accompany you wherever the journey (or the afternoon) might lead . . . My most recent companion has been Mary Oliver's The Leaf and the Cloud . . . It's a brilliant meditation, a walk through the natural world with one of our preeminent contemporary poets." -Rita Dove, Washington Post

"Mary Oliver moves by instinct, faith, and determination. She is among our finest poets, and still growing." -Alicia Ostriker, The Nation

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

I can't stop reading!
Grandma
I love Mary Oliver's poems and the way she connects to nature.
luther w. dixon
I recommend this poetry collection to you!
Grumple Dumple

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

137 of 137 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 23, 1999
Format: Paperback
Every poem in this book is a gem, and the collection made me want to read her complete works. While this is definitely not "religious poetry" of the greeting card variety, it is an expression of a deep spiritual awareness. Oliver's poems often reveal an amazement and wonder at being alive. Poetic skill and heightened awareness are so well-integrated, those who are looking for well-crafted poetry will certainly find it, and those who are looking for an awakening of consciousness may also find that.
Although Oliver's environment, her field of play, is nature, I wouldn't reduce her to a "naturalist poet." Nature is always interpreted and absorbed by her vision. Nature reveals its secrets to her, but they are the secrets of her own soul. In her poetry, nature is the oracle that reveals the human psyche.
But I should include Oliver's own words, because no prose critique can do justice to the intoxicating natural imagery of her poems. In the poem "Peonies", the richness and fertility of nature mirror the same qualities of the imagination:
This morning the green fists of the peonies are getting ready to break my heart
as the sun rises,
as the sun strokes them with his old, buttery fingers
and they open- pools of lace,
white and pink- and all day the black ants climb over them,
boring their deep and mysterious holes into the curls,
craving the sweet sap,...
The poem ends with a challenge that reverberates through the book. In spite of the sense of death looming sometimes on the edge of the poem (and our lives), sometimes at the center, are we willing to fully experience life?
Do you love this world?
Do you cherish your humble and silky life?
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117 of 117 people found the following review helpful By Juan Mobili on May 31, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The only problem with a volume of Mary Oliver's collected poems is that whichever poems end up excluded are likely to be the reader's loss. Such incomparable consistency of craft and soul can be expected, every single time, from Ms. Oliver!
That said, no poem here is undeserving of its inclusion, and if it took an anthology like this to have you wonder about reading her for the first time, then thank God for this book.
Included here -note that this is only the first volume- are works from her earlier books, all of which are worth buying separately. A particularly important inclusion are the selections of American Primitive, in my opinion her most moving and accomplished collection.
Those who adore poems like the glorious "Wild Geese" or were moved by the wisdom of "The Journey," will be happy to know that they are, of course, contained in this volume, along with many others begetting similar acclaim.
So, five stars for Ms. Oliver only because I can't give her ten.
As far as the publisher, I would have liked a clearer indication that this is the very same edition already published years ago. At least in my case, the additional subtitle -"Volume One"- confused me and led me to buy something I already owned. In the other hand, if such mention indicates the upcoming release of a second volume -specially if more uncollected poems may be part of it, I'll be satisfied and forgiving.
For those who own everything by her and do not possess this volume, this is still a valid purchase on the basis of the, once, "new poems" contained and not available anywhere else.
Welcome -or welcome back- to the poetry of Mary Oliver. Let these words take your breath away with its exquisite and gently fierce call to opening your heart and be intelligent toward all beings.
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71 of 72 people found the following review helpful By Grumple Dumple on December 15, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Mary Oliver overwhelms my visual and auditory senses with her language; it is precise and controlled; her imagery is brilliant. Using carefully chosen words she captures the "essence" of living things in the natural world.

Each work is masterful and seems a deep meditation that leaves a reader feeling refreshed and somehow privy to a personal, even private part of the poet as an investigator and witness to nature and its secrets.

Each time I read one of her poems I feel as if she is inviting me into the woods with her to witness the natural world in all of its sacredness.

I have yet to read a poem of hers that disappointed me.

Her mood-infused poem "Rain" (the first poem in the book) is sublime; and "Mushrooms" is glorious!

Read "Mushrooms" slowly and listen to the language; see the imagery in the mind:

Rain, and then
the cool pursed
lips of the wind
draw them
out of the ground---
red and yellow skulls
pummeling upward
through leaves,
through grasses,
through sand; astonishing
in their suddenness,
their quietude,
their wetness, they appear
on fall mornings, some
balancing in the earth
on one hoof
packed with poison,
others billowing
chunkily, and delicious---
those who know
walk out to gather, choosing
the benign from flocks
of glitterers, sorcerors,
russulas,
panther caps,
shark-white death angels
in their torn veils
looking innocent as sugar
but full of paralysis:
to eat
is to stagger down
fast as mushrooms themselves
when they are done being perfect
and overnight
slide back under the shining
fields of rain.

My God!
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