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Swan: Poems and Prose Poems Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press; First Edition edition (September 14, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807068993
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807068991
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 6.6 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #591,971 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Cherished nature poet Oliver begins her twentieth collection by asking, “What can I say that I have not said before?” Then continues reporting on the wisdom she gleans in woods and on the beach, making each dispatch fresh and startling by way of the vitality of her encompassing vision and the fluidity and shine of her language. Her love for dogs remains ardent; she is still enthralled by birds and unrepentant in her celebration of beauty. The sun of her gratitude is great, illuminating beloved household objects, the rapidity of a hummingbird, and “the drowse of mountains.” The poet gets bloodied when she tries to help an injured gull, which inspires her to declare, “I love this world, even in its hard places. / A bird too must love this world, / even in its hard places. / So, even if the effort may come to nothing, / you have to do something.” Oliver’s plainspoken yet ringing poems are testimony to joy, prayers, and sermons. She concurs: “Okay, I confess to wanting to make a literature of praise.” --Donna Seaman

Review

Praise for Mary Oliver
 
“One of the astonishing aspects of Oliver’s work is the consistency of tone over this long period [of her career]. What changes is an increased focus on nature and an increased precision with language that has made her one of our very best poets. . . . 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
 
“Mary Oliver’s poetry is fine and deep; it reads like a blessing. Her special gift is to connect us with our sources in the natural world, its beauties and terrors and mysteries and consolations.”
—Stanley Kunitz 
 
“Mary Oliver’s poems are natural growths out of a loam of perception and feeling, and instinctive skill with language makes them seem effortless. Reading them is a sensual delight.”
—May Swenson
 
“Like Henry David Thoreau of Transcendentalist fame she is a naturalist whose attention to what used to be called the Book of Nature borders on both devotion and experimentation. . . . Mindfulness seems to be Oliver’s métier, looking and listening her scientific method and contemplative practice.”
—Stephen Prothero, Search
 
“I should be clear that Mary Oliver is, to my mind, one of the most gifted American poets working in English today. In her hands, the language acquires a lucidity approaching translucence; the accuracy of her vision and the precision of her voice are unique in their refreshing simplicity. Perhaps most singular is the tendency of her poems to be at once powerful and appealing; an affection for the natural world and a sympathy toward the reader abide.”
—Katherine Hollander, Pleiades
 
“This year the Top 5 [Indiebound poetry best sellers] can be summed up in six words: Mary Oliver, Mary Oliver, Mary Oliver. Oliver’s impressive feat reflects both an enduring popularity and an unparalleled ability to touch readers on a deep, almost primal level.”
—Elizabeth Lund, Christian Science Monitor

“Mary Oliver moves by instinct, faith, and determination. She is among our finest poets, and still growing.”
—Alicia Ostriker, The Nation
 
“One would have to reach back perhaps to [John] Clare or [Christopher] Smart to safely cite a parallel to Oliver’s lyricism.”
—David Barber, Poetry
 
“The music in Oliver’s writing is unmistakable. Her poetry can be read as the best of the real lyrics we have these days, and it’s no surprise that she’s already won a Pulitzer Prize for it, as well as many other honors.”
Los Angeles Times 
 
Oliver’s plainspoken yet ringing poems are testimony to joy, prayers, and sermons.”—Donna Seaman, Booklist

With her new collection, this winner of the National Book Award for Poetry and the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry once again joyfully celebrates the natural world.
Ms. magazine

“You can pick up pretty much any Mary Oliver collection and be thrilled, but Swan…is so piercing and penetrating that form seems to fall away, an unnecessary stage for the rocket.”
Christian Century

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

4.6 out of 5 stars
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A must read for poetry lovers!!!!!
Susan H. McFadden
Simple and straightforward as only Mary Oliver can be, this collection brings us more of the wonderment she finds in the everyday.
Ilana Waters
As I was leaving the library on a Saturday afternoon this book caught my eye.
Risley

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

45 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Carol D. Lewis on September 19, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have devoured this pre-ordered copy and then re-read much more slowly. I love her take on nature and its realism - yes, she finds so much beautiful but she knows the darker side and in accepting that, accepts the truth of things in nature (including ourselves, naturally.) I laughed at the Percy (her dog)poems and then saw deeper wisdom in them. I look forward to immersing myself in the book over time. My favorite poem at this point is "For Example". Who can resist the line?
"But we all know, don't we, how sometimes
things have to feel anger, so as not
to be defeated?"
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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Theresa Mcquaid on October 8, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Mary Oliver does it again! After a brief time of what I felt was perhaps poetry depressed by the death of her long time partner, this new book is filled with life and living images, with the joy and reverence Oliver has always shown, toward all of nature.

I'll continue buying every one of her books.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By moon on October 27, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
You can sense the recovery from the loss of her life partner in her poems. An interesting look at faith and nature - a must read for Oliver fans!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Robin on May 22, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Currently my favorite of Oliver's books, I keep going back to Swan again and again. Her compassionate, spiritual, loving contemplation of the world around and within her is a beautiful gift that she shares with us.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Risley on August 27, 2012
Format: Paperback
As I was leaving the library on a Saturday afternoon this book caught my eye. I have heard Mary Oliver read here in Seattle and I enjoy her work. On this Saturday I needed her to lift me out of a deep despair and to take me on a tour of bliss. I wish that Mary Oliver would allow me to walk in the woods with her, I promise to be very quiet and listen.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By KBZ on January 26, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Love Mary Oliver's poetry. I appreciate and look at the natural world with new eyes each and every time I visit one of her poems. This is not as strong as some of her other work. But that's like saying that
Halle Berry is having a bad hair day-yet still beautiful just the same.

Pick it up and fill your heart and soul with art that looks to shine its light on the simple joy of living.
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By Sonny on February 17, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
What a sweet, thoughtful book. Succinct words provoke much thought. Filled with observation and revelation. Simple and nostalgic. An American poet to discover.
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By pirish on February 14, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a great collection of poetry. Easy to read - light, insightful. Mary Oliver continues to deliver poems that resonate with a wide audience.
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