In January, poet Mary Oliver died at age 83. What do you say about a poet who won the Pulitzer Prize (American Primitive, 1983), the National Book Award (New and Selected Poems, 1992), a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a fistful of honorary doctorates, and was a bestselling poet for most of her life? She published 33 poetry collections and four non-fiction or essay collections, and she was recognized as one of the best nature poets ever. And she was one of those rare poets whose work drew brought affirmation from critics and the general public alike.
You can say a lot of things, but it might be best simply to recognize her for the eminence in the poetry world she was and be done with it. And yet that seems too abrupt.
I went looking for one of her works to read and discuss. I passed by the award winners and instead settled on Dream Work, the collection she published after winning the Pulitzer Prize. That first post-award collection would be a challenge for any poet; expectations would be high and the critical knives might be out if it doesn’t seem to measure up.
To continue reading, please see my post today at Tweetspeak Poetry.
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