Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1984 for American Primitive and National Book Award in 1992 for New and Selected Poems, Mary Oliver is an American prolific poet and writer, author of several collections, last one Felicity dated 2015.
In her handbook Rules for the Dance for writing and reading metrical verse, she explains the way writers could approach poetical production and underlines a few steps to follow: discipline, revision, exercise and fun, reading, editing and modesty.
“Always remember that the thing you love is language, poetry, its motion, its good news, the applicability of what it says to a thousand human spirits or a million; and what you do not care about very much is yourself as the poet. It is the process that is important, how it changes us from mere humans into meditative beings. … Just occasionally, take something you have written, that you rather like, that you have felt an even immodest pleasure over, and throw it away.”
At the beginning of her career, Oliver was deeply inspired by Edna St. Vincent Millay, who notoriously also influenced the work of a lot of artists in different fields, Woody Allen among them.
Maxine Kumin named her – indefatigable guide to the natural world- and wrote -her verse focuses on the quiet of occurrences of nature: industrious hummingbirds, egrets, motionless ponds -.
from Blue Horses
It’s spring and Mockingbird is teaching himself
new ways to celebrate.
If you can imagine that—that gusty talker.
And the sky is painting itself a brand-new
plenty of which is spilling into the pond.
I think, just for the joy of it, I’ll fly.
I believe I could.
Mary Oliver is one of the most loved American living poets, presumably for her profound ability to touch the soul, the mind and the spirit of each reader, authentically, and connect them to Nature.
In 2017, the latest collection Devotions, comprised of her amazing career-span poems, has been released by Penguin Press. A fantastic opportunity to approach her body of work as a whole.
A Thousand Mornings
All night my heart makes its way
however it can over the rough ground
of uncertainties, but only until night
meets and then is overwhelmed by
morning, the light deepening, the
wind easing and just waiting, as I
too wait (and when have I ever been
disappointed?) for redbird to sing.