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Red Bird: Poems Hardcover – April 1, 2008
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Birds are totem animals for poets, and Oliver writes of her winged kindred spirits often, here addressing “red bird” with gratitude for “firing up the landscape” in winter. Red bird is an emblem of passion in a frozen world, and a sign of Oliver’s own resurgence of love and hope after the profound grief of her last collection, Thirst (2006). In “Summer Morning,” she writes, “Heart, / I implore you, / it’s time to come back / from the dark.” And in “Self -Portrait,” she exclaims, “Ah! seventy. And still / in love with life. And still / full of beans.” One of few avidly read living poets, Oliver revels in the beauty of the living world, and takes to heart its lessons in patience and pleasure, cessation and renewal. As piercingly observant as ever in this substantial and forthright collection, Oliver is rhapsodic. But she is also wry, caustic, and elegiac in critiquing our habit of violence, “the debris of progress,” and the cruel fate of rivers, polar bears, and all the wild places and animals we’ve endangered, and from which we still have so much to learn. --Donna Seaman
Mary Oliver, who won the Pulitzer Prize in poetry, is my choice for her joyous, accessible, intimate observations of the natural world . . . She teaches us the profound act of paying attention—a living wonder that makes it possible to appreciate all the others.—Renée Loth, Boston Globe
"It has always seemed . . . that Mary Oliver might leave us any minute. Even a 1984 Pulitzer Prize couldn't pin her to the ground. She'd change quietly into a heron or a bear and fly or walk off forever. Her poems contain windows, doors, transformations, hints on how to escape the body; there's the 'glamour of death' and the 'life after the earth-life.' This urge to be transformed is yoked to a joy in this moment, this life, this body."—Susan Salter Reynolds, Los Angeles Times
"'My work is loving the world,' Oliver tells us . . . She has always done that work . . . in poems of considerable beauty. Now she rises, not above the world, but through it."—Jay Parini, The Guardian