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Comment: Book is in great condition! No writing to any pages. Has a small amount of shelfwear to the cover. Ships out daily in sturdy packaging with delivery confirmation!
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Dream Work Paperback – May, 1986

4.7 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry

Dream Work, a collection of forty-five poems, follows both chronologically and logically Mary Oliver's American Primitive, which won the Pulitzer Prize for the finest book of poetry published in 1983 by an American poet. The depth and diversity of perceptual awareness--so steadfast and radiant in American Primitive--continue in Dream Work. Additionally, she has turned her attention in these poems to the solitary and difficult labors of the spirit--to accepting the truth about one's personal world, and to valuing the triumphs while transcending the failures of human relationships.

Whether by way of inheritance--as in her poems about the Holocaust--or through a painful glimpse into the present--as in "Acid," a poem about an injured boy begging in the streets of Indonesia--the events and tendencies of history take on a new importance also. More deeply than in her previous volumes, the sensibility behind these poems has merged with the world. Mary Oliver's willingness to be joyful continues, deepened by self-awareness, by experience, and by choice.

"Her poems are wonderingly perceptive and strongly written, but beyond that they are a spirited, expressive meditation on the impossibilities of what we call lives, and on the gratifications of change."--Hayden Carruth

Mary Oliver was born in 1935 in Cleveland, Ohio. Among the awards and prizes she has received are the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, a Shelley Memorial Award, a Guggenheim, and an American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters Achievement Award. Her collection of poetry American Primitive received the 1984 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry and New and Selected Poems received a National Book Award in 1992. Ms. Oliver has served on the faculties of Case Western Reserve, Bucknell, the University of Cincinnati, Sweet Briar College, and Duke University. She currently lives in Provincetown, Massachusetts and teaches literature at Bennington College.

Review


“Her poems are wonderingly perceptive and strongly written, but beyond that they are a spirited, expressive meditation on the impossibili­ties of what we call lives, and on the gratifications of change.” —Hayden Carruth

“Oliver’s poems are thoroughly convincing—as genuine, moving, and implausible as the first caressing breeze of spring.” —The New York Times Book 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. . . . 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, The New York Times Book Review
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 90 pages
  • Publisher: The Atlantic Monthly Press (May 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0871130696
  • ISBN-13: 978-0871130693
  • Product Dimensions: 0.2 x 5.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #91,762 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
_Dream Work_ is the first Mary Oliver book that I found, way back in 1989 while ill with pneumonia. "The Journey", possibly Mary's most popular poem, leapt out at me and quite literally opened my mind to a deeper commitment to self-care. That poem was Good Medicine!! ... "Wild Geese" has been another balm; who among us couldn't feel more tender towards ourselves when we read these lines, "You do not have to be good./You do not have to walk on your knees/for a hunded miles through the desert, repenting./You only have to let the soft animal of your body/love what it loves."?
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Format: Paperback
I was a little tired of studying one day years ago and decided to pick up something entirely different and read it instead. I did a random search for whatever words came to my fingertips first. I was away at college and feeling a little homesick I guess. As I recall, the words included "moonlight", "home", and "dream". I got back Twelve Moons, House of Light, and Dreamwork. That started my romance with Mary Oliver.
I'm aware that many people say her imagery is too rich, too luxurious, and that it is not so much elemental as "stock". I also believe that that's like criticizing Tchaikovsky or Strauss or Puccini for being too melodic, too beautiful, too sad, too delightful.
I see no reason to believe that popularity and artistic value must be inversely proportional. Quite the contrary, I wish that more people could know about this wonderful woman to whom I am so deeply grateful.
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Format: Paperback
Mary Oliver is the poet I always point to first to contradict people who say, "For poetry to be good, it has to be depressing." Oliver continually proves that being hopeful, appreciative, and optimistic isn't necessarily incompatible with being a good artist/writer or a person who thinks analytically and critically. The poems in this book largely deal with nature, art, or music, and with appreciating the natural world, even if that appreciation sometimes needs to be forced.
I still don't know how Oliver does it. . . something about the clarity of her language makes subjects and philosophies that would sound trite or sugary in the lines of any other writer deeply moving. Perhaps because she doesn't embellish on her subjects, but lets the images and ideas speak for themselves.
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Format: Paperback
I've owned this brief book, just under 90 pages, now for over a decade. First purchased it after hearing the more famous poems quoted several times by friends and in workshops -- such as, Wild Geese and The Journey.

These two gems have certainly found their way into my soul. Cherished. When I am surprised now to hear them quoted again after having moved to a different town and different friends -- they still create a sense of profound comfort, not because life is easy but because Mary Oliver has managed to give it honest and penetrating expression that honors the struggle, the wistfulness, the determination and the glimpses of hope.

Since she is a Pulitzer Winner for Poetry, I expected to find more reviews here. Her wisdom was definitely not exhausted in her most popular poems. There are many other very fine, equally enchanted lines in this book. Other stanzas of haunting beauty and insight. So far, I've never tired of it recapturing my attention as I walk by the shelf where it rests. No other book of poems that I've owned calls me this persistently and at "the right time".

Over these years, regardless of the pleasure or the stressfulness of my day -- there is a poem in here which has fresh relevancy. I savor her terse yet skillful word-smithing. After a few minutes of letting her words wash over and through me, I feel a deep satisfaction. No, life isn't perfect. Pain still happens, tragedy (past and present) still touches me, and death still claims those I care about. But Mary Oliver has found the words to express it and to create a slightly different angle on my day or night, illuminating that which is shared across all of us earthwalkers. Through her words I see more options. I feel sacred ground beneath my feet.
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Format: Paperback
I love Mary Oliver's magnificent poetry. She helps the reader feel the connection between nature and the Divine. "The Journey," Mary's incredible poem about loving and saving oneself is a rare gem. As a psychotherapist, I see so many people who do not see freedom for themselves as an option. They feel imprisoned by others, convention, their own harsh self-judgement. A reading and understanding of "The Journey," can be the first incredible step towards freeing one's spirit, allowing it to take flight and soar. I cannot read this poem without my heart filling with gratitude. I took the journey for myself years ago and "...saved the only life I could save;my own." God bless Mary Oliver.
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Format: Paperback
I discovered Mary Oliver by reading a short story which referenced Wild Geese. Finding Wild Geese quite literally saved my life. The rest of Dream Work was hardly a let down. The opening poem, Dogfish... "I want to listen to the enormous waterfalls of the sun"... how do you get better than that? From Rage to Shadows to Sliver, Orion, Trilliums... every single poem in this book is pure. This book is my "Bible" so to speak.

Get this book. *Get it.*
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