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Owls and Other Fantasies: Poems and Essays Hardcover – September 30, 2003


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 88 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press; First Edition edition (September 30, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807068683
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807068687
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 6.4 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #131,008 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Alternating poems, short essays and drawings of feathers, Oliver's 12th collection is strongest and most direct when using the first person to show the second a path to the good life: "You do not have to be good./ You do not have to walk on your knees/ for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting/ You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves." Many of the poems take up moments of attention to, and are titled for, birds: goldfinches "having a melodious argument"; hummingbirds as "tiny fireworks"; herons "in the black, polished water"; starlings "Chunky and noisy/ but with stars in their black feathers"; and the local crow, of whom she says "I have never seen anything brighter." Oliver won a Pulitzer Prize for American Primitive (1984) and a National Book Award for New and Selected Poems (1992). If this book lacks some of the urgency of earlier work, it has been replaced by a confidence that seems less about writing highly crafted poems than about rendering the moment, whether of observation or imagination, simply and easily, whether in prose or verse. As an essay on a "black-backed gull" Oliver rescued puts it, "no matter how hard I try to tell this story, it's not like it was," but the best of these 28 pieces seem to get close.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

Mary Oliver is beautiful and accurate in this book of poetry and prose about birds . . . all rendered with the precision of a line-drawing of a single feather that puts the entire wing into perspective. --Orion

"Oliver has gained enormous popularity in recent years for the accessible yet highly articulate and profound treatment she gives each poem . . . This new title will bring much pleasure to the many readers who claim Oliver as their favorite poet, as well as to people new to her work." —Library Journal

"What we have here are moral essays in prose and verse, passionate meditations on the conduct of life. You will be the wiser—as I believe I am—for having read them." --Frank Wilson, Philadephia Inquirer

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

4.8 out of 5 stars
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If you appreciate good writing read Mary Oliver.
Michael D. Stevens
Her observations of nature and her beautiful way of expressing them touch something deep inside.
D. Youssef
She has particularly two details that I appreciate very much from her writing.
Paul A. Wunderlich

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Lydia on April 20, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I purchased this book for a birder friend that never reads poetry and she absolutely loves the book! The book is filled with the sights, sounds, and imagery of nature (in both essay and poetry) as only Mary Oliver can breathe them into life through uncomplicated words and a genuine love of all things.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Lois Lambert on August 8, 2010
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This book was recommended by a priest. It has very subtle Biblical references, but you won't notice that if you are not looking. The poems and essays are wonderful and I highly recommend the book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Teacher Jan on February 11, 2010
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Before discovering Mary Oliver, I was not much of a poetry fan. However, her poems and essays, to me, are food for my soul. I am a birder, and this particular collection is one of my favorites. She writes simply and her observations speak to the beauty, the danger and the mystery of nature.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Michael D. Stevens on December 7, 2009
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After reading an essay (Bird) and a poem (Crow?) in this book, I'm anxious to find and read more of Mary Oliver's work. I tend to favor essays and "Bird" was a special one. If you appreciate good writing read Mary Oliver.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By D. Youssef on August 18, 2008
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As always, Mary Oliver does not disappoint. She is my favorite living poet. Her observations of nature and her beautiful way of expressing them touch something deep inside.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It is a book of very sweet stories about Owls and other birds. I am a fan of Mary Oliver's poetry and this one is excellent. I also love her book entitled DOG SONGS.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Mary Oliver is my favorite contemporary poet, and this is a good example of her work. Sorry that she lost her companion, but
c"est la vie.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I love Mary Oliver's poetry and writings. She examines the great beauty and tragedy of life. It always gives me a new perspective on reality. I think her work is wonderful.
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