Born in a small town in Ohio, Mary Oliver published her first book of poetry in 1963 at the age of 28. Over the course of her long career, she received numerous awards. Her fourth book, American Primitive, won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1984. She led workshops and held residencies at various colleges and universities, including Bennington College, where she held the Catharine Osgood Foster Chair for Distinguished Teaching. She died in 2019.
"In "Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver" (Penguin), one of our most beloved writers offers both the best of her work and a spiritual road map of sorts. Spanning more than 50 years and featuring more than 200 poems, the collection shows Oliver, in the early years, turning away from grief and finding in nature a "vast, incredible gift." Over time, as she carefully observes and records, Oliver extols the beauty and complexity around her and reminds us of the interconnectedness of living. She also asks important questions, such as "have you ever dared to be happy/ ... have you ever dared to pray," and "Tell me, what it is you plan to do/ with your one wild and precious life?" Those lines resonate as much today as when she first penned them decades ago. No matter where one starts reading, "Devotions" offers much to love, from Oliver's exuberant dog poems to selections from the Pulitzer Prize-winning "American Primitive," and "Dream Work," one of her exceptional collections. Perhaps more important, the luminous writing provides respite from our crazy world and demonstrates how mindfulness can define and transform a life, moment by moment, poem by poem." --The Washington Post "It's as if the poet herself has sidled beside the reader and pointed us to the poems she considers most worthy of deep consideration." -- Chicago Tribune