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Evidence [Paperback]

Mary Oliver

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Book Description

10 Sep 2009
Mary Oliver is one of America's best-loved poets. Her luminous poetry celebrates nature and beauty, love and the spirit, silence and wonder, extending the visionary American tradition of Whitman, Emerson, Frost and Emily Dickinson. The winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, she has lived for many years on Cape Cod. Her extraordinary poetry is nourished by her intimate knowledge and minute daily observation of the New England coast, its woods and ponds, its birds and animals, plants and trees. In her latest collection, "Evidence", Mary Oliver delves even deeper than she has in the past into the mysteries of life, love and death. Exploring the evidence presented to us daily by the natural world, Oliver offers poems of arresting beauty and insight, inspired by Wordsworth's lines: 'To me the meanest flower that blows can give / Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.' Never shy of letting the power of an image lie in unadorned language, Oliver's work here reflects on the power of love and the great gifts of the natural world.

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These are life-enhancing and redemptive poems that coax the sublime from the subliminal. --Sally Connolly, Poetry

Mary Oliver moves by instinct, faith, and determination. She is among out finest poets, and still growing. --Alicia Ostriker, The Nation

I think of Oliver as a fierce, uncompromising lyricist, a loyalist of the marshes. Hers is a voice we desperately need. --Maxine Kumin, Women's Review of Books

About the Author

Mary Oliver was born in Maple Heights, Ohio in 1935. Her first collection American Primitive (1983) won a Pulitzer Prize. It was followed by books including Dream Work (1986), House of Light (1990), New and Selected Poems (1992), White Pine (1994), West Wind (1997), Winter Hours (1999), The Leaf and the Cloud (2000), What Do We Know (2002), Owls and Other Fantasies (2003), Why I Wake Early (2004), Blue Iris (2004), New and Selected Poems: volume two (2005), and a CD recording, At Blackwater Pond: Mary Oliver reads Mary Oliver (2005). Bloodaxe published her first UK selection, Wild Geese: Selected Poems, in 2004, followed by her latest work, Thirst, (2007), Red Bird (2008) and Evidence (2009). Mary Oliver is America's biggest selling contemporary poet. She holds the Catherine Osgood Foster Chair at Bennington College, Vermont, and lives in Provincetown, Massachusetts.

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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  24 reviews
35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still So Strong 14 Mar 2009
By Lynne - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This newest volume of Mary Oliver's poetry is as good as any she has published. It is experience, thought, and feeling distilled as few can do so well as Oliver. She has managed to eliminate even more adjectives than in earlier poems. She can look at the complexity of life, including its pain, and still rise to praise.
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A humbling and very necessary collection of poetry 24 Jun 2009
By G. Matassa - Published on Amazon.com
Oliver's poetry bridges humanity to the natural world in a humbling way that demands the reader to become cognizant of his or her vulnerability - the vulnerability that is often neglected in today's culture of convenience and disconnection from nature. She broaches simple necessities that we take for granted, such as water, and crafts beautiful and powerful poetry to demonstrate their importance and our absolute reliance on them. Life, death, the omnipotence of nature, God, and many variety of birds are common themes and symbols used throughout this collection to weave a powerful compilation of evidence, as its title proclaims, of our place in the natural world.

Poetry is a genre that I generally keep my distance from because of my own personal misgivings, but Oliver is one of the few who I am instantly able to connect with because of her excellent ability to intertwine basic human needs and experiences with the beauty of the natural world that so many of us often overlook. If you are a person who appreciates the beauty of a nest of bird eggs or a blooming jacaranda tree, Oliver's poetry will speak to you in a way that other poetry fails to do. She hones your attention on enjoying the moment and what is real and organic - enjoying the yellow finches, the mockingbirds, and even the buzzards.
24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mary Oliver at her best 18 May 2009
By Helen - Published on Amazon.com
I came across Mary Oliver's poetry a few years ago and eagerly awaited this new collection. I think it's brilliant. I wasn't that impressed with her collection entitled Thirst. I found it a bit too religious. This one (Evidence) is a delight. There's a brightness and liveliness to a lot of the poems, combined with some very moving sections - I don't know how she does it but she can tug at my heart in the space of just one line sometimes! Remarkable poet and I highly recommend this wondeful new collection.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read and re-read 11 Sep 2009
By Patricia Kramer - Published on Amazon.com
This is a book I want to keep by my bedside where I will see it and remember to pick it up and re-read the poems...to be reminded of thoughts such as this from "Deep Summer"

"The mockingbird
opens his throat
among the thorns
for his own reasons.........

Your clocks, he says plainly,
which are always ticking,
do not have to be listened to.
The spirit of his every word."
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Evidence: Poems 19 May 2009
By Russ Mayes - Published on Amazon.com
Mary Oliver's poetry has an almost Zen-like precision as she gazes at the natural world. and the poems in this volume are no exception. Fans of her earlier poetry will still fine the short lines and vivid images that have made her one of the best-known poets in the U.S. Newcomers will find the influence of Dickinson, Frost and W.C. Williams to be quite prevalent in her verse. Overall, Evidence is an enjoyable collection of lyric poetry.

Not all the poems in this collection are destined to be long-remembered, however. Oliver can sometimes slip into a voice that tries to pass off familiar wisdom as deep insight. She can also be quite sentimental at times, though at other times her vision is ice hard. Her spirituality veers from the orthodox Christian to the new age mystic, but both are always at the service of an adoration of nature; she seems to me to be a pantheist in Christian garb. These issues, though, did not prevent me from enjoying the collection.
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