Mary Oliver passed away on 17 January, 2019. One of the many people to pay tribute to her in the following days was Maria Popova. Ms. Popova mentioned an essay entitled “Staying Alive” in Upstream: Selected Essays wherein Mary Oliver cites reading as having saved her.
It seems like the notion of being saved by certain activities related to her profession was a common theme for Mary Oliver. During her 2015 interview with On Being’s Krista Tippett, Mary Oliver cites poetry has having saved her.
Listening to Mary Oliver being interviewed, or reading her essays, one hears an unpretentious neighbor lady who would be a joy to know but who would also cherish her personal space and privacy. She wrote of dogs, foxes, turtles, owls, spiders. She wrote about coming across three codfish on a Cape Cod beach, apparently left there by a someone who caught them but then decided not to take them home. Mary Oliver did take them home and prepared them for her dinner. She also took home an injured seagull, nursed it as well as she could, then wrote of its remaining days in vivid, frank detail.
Upstream also put me in mind of Out Walking: Reflections on Our Place in the Natural World by John Leax. Now I need to read more of their poetry.
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