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Blue Pastures


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About the Author

A private person by nature, Mary Oliver (1935-2019) gave very few interviews over the years. Instead, she preferred to let her work speak for itself. And speak it has, for the past five decades, to countless readers. Over the course of her long and illustrious career, Oliver received numerous awards. Her fourth book, American Primitive, won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1984. She 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.


The poet's "responsibility is not to the ordinary, or the timely," writes the peerless poet Oliver. "It does not include mustard, or teeth." In this gathering of gorgeous short pieces, Oliver, who won the Pulitzer Prize for American Primitive (LJ 2/15/83), returns to the realm of the extraordinary and the mysterious-the realm of poetry-which she finds in nature. She ponders the terrible nightly hunt of the horned owl and relishes the terror that "is naturally and abundantly part of life, part of own." She watches the dashing of small fry in a pond and wonders, "which one am I?" In "My Friend Walt Whitman" she pays homage to "the brother I did not have" whose poetic voice liberated her own; and in "Steepletop" she meditates on the great sad love affair between Edna Millay and George Dillon. Oliver demonstrates that she is not only an avid student of poetry but a great teacher: "The Poet's Voice" is a defense of the value of meter and a gentle rebuke to the confessional school. This transcendent collection is Oliver's joyful sharing of her love of her craft; not to be passed up.-Amy Boaz, "Library Journal"

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