- Paperback: 88 pages
- Publisher: Beacon Press; 1st Edition edition (September 1, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0807068977
- ISBN-13: 978-0807068977
- Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.3 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 132 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #36,243 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Thirst: Poems Paperback – September 1, 2007
"Maybe You Should Talk to Someone" by Lori Gottlieb
"This is a daring, delightful, and transformative book." ―Arianna Huffington, Founder, Huffington Post Learn more
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To read Thirst, is to feel gratititude for the simple fact of being alive. This is not surprising, as it is the effect [Oliver's] best work has produced in readers for the past 43 years. —Angela O'Donnell, America Magazine
"Mary Oliver moves by instinct, faith, and determination. She is among our finest poets, and still growing." —Alicia Ostriker, The Nation
"It has always seemed, across her [many] books of poetry, . . . that Mary Oliver might leave us at 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 on forever." —Susan Salter Reynolds, Los Angeles Times
"Mary Oliver. In a region that has produced most of the nation's poet laureates, it is risky to single out one fragile 71-year-old bard of Provincetown. But Mary Oliver, who won the Pulitzer Prize in poetry in 1983, is my choice for her joyous, accessible, intimate observations of the natural world. Her Wild Geese has become so popular it now graces posters in dorm rooms across the land. But don't hold that against her. Read almost anything in New and Selected Poems. 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
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.
Beacon Press maintains a Mary Oliver website, maryoliver.beacon.org. You can also become a fan on Facebook at www.facebook.com/poetmaryoliver.
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And there are happy songs here concerning snowfalls in which the speaker comes home "red-cheeked from the roused wind," trees that speak through their leaves, and luna moths. A dog appreciates a sunset, we look into the "nameless stars" that swim in a snake's eye, and the ghost of Walt Whitman seems to inhabit lines such as: "when I speak to the fox,/ the sparrow, the lost dog, the shivering sea-goose, know/ that really I am speaking to you whenever I say,/ as I do all morning and afternoon: Come in, Come in." Oliver is speaking to God, however, whereas Whitman was speaking to humanity, or the great natural world as an indivisible whole.
The lament inevitably comes, however (about halfway through the collection). And the later poems in Thirst deal almost exclusively with the speaker's attempts to reconcile herself with Christiandom's version of god. They lose their footing and slip into a kind of unpleasant (to me, at least) sermonizing. By the end of the book, there are few concrete images left and purely dogmatic statements have crept into the material, although it should be kept in mind that these pieces probably were specfically targeted to Christian and/or Catholic markets.
Overall, it is not worth the price but well worth your time, if that makes any sense.
I'm not quite sure who's responsible for the electronic layout, but I found it frustrating that some lines appeared in larger type than others. In fact some stanzas were of different sizes, which I found irritating. And who wants someone to tell you how much time it will take you to "finish" a book of poetry? In this case, I'd say a few years.