Picture of author.

For other authors named Mary Oliver, see the disambiguation page.

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About the Author

Mary Oliver was born in Cleveland, Ohio on September 10, 1935. She attended Ohio State University and Vassar College, but did not receive a degree. Her first collection of poems, No Voyage and Other Poems, was published in 1963. She wrote more than 20 volumes of poetry including The River Styx, show more Ohio; The Leaf and the Cloud; Evidence; Blue Horses; and Felicity. She received several awards including the Pulitzer Prize for American Primitive, the Christopher Award and the L. L. Winship/PEN New England Award for House of Light, and the National Book Award for New and Selected Poems. Her books of prose include A Poetry Handbook, Rules for the Dance: A Handbook for Writing and Reading Metrical Verse, and Long Life: Essays and Other Writings. She held the Catharine Osgood Foster Chair for Distinguished Teaching at Bennington College from 1995 to 2001. She died on January 17, 2019 at the age of 83. (Bowker Author Biography) show less
Image credit: Mary Oliver in 2010.


Works by Mary Oliver

Upstream: Selected Essays (2016) 965 copies
A Thousand Mornings: Poems (2012) 826 copies
Dog Songs: Poems (2013) 746 copies
Thirst: Poems (2006) 712 copies
Why I Wake Early: New Poems (2004) 693 copies
American Primitive (1983) 663 copies
Dream Work (1986) 625 copies
New and Selected Poems (1992) 610 copies
Felicity (2016) 480 copies
Blue Horses: Poems (2014) 413 copies
House of Light (1990) 400 copies
Red Bird: Poems (2008) 370 copies
Evidence: Poems (2009) 273 copies
Blue Iris: Poems and Essays (2004) 228 copies
Swan: Poems and Prose Poems (2010) 209 copies
Blue Pastures (1995) 208 copies
Twelve Moons (1979) 163 copies
Our World (2007) 111 copies
Wild Geese (2004) 57 copies
No Voyage and Other Poems (1965) 16 copies
The Night Traveler (1978) 6 copies
The Journey 2 copies
Mockingbirds 1 copy
Singapore 1 copy

Associated Works

The Making of a Poem: A Norton Anthology of Poetic Forms (2000) — Contributor — 1,228 copies
The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Poetry (1990) — Contributor, some editions — 737 copies
American Earth: Environmental Writing Since Thoreau (2008) — Contributor — 405 copies
Cries of the Spirit: A Celebration of Women's Spirituality (2000) — Contributor — 366 copies
Ten Poems to Change Your Life (2001) — Contributor — 346 copies
The Best American Essays 2001 (2001) — Contributor — 234 copies
A Velocity of Being: Letters to a Young Reader (2018) — Contributor — 223 copies
The Best American Poetry 2000 (2000) — Contributor — 212 copies
The Best American Poetry 1999 (1999) — Contributor — 208 copies
The Art of Losing (2010) — Contributor — 191 copies
The Best American Poetry 2006 (2006) — Contributor — 189 copies
The Best American Essays 1998 (1998) — Contributor — 187 copies
American Religious Poems: An Anthology (2006) — Contributor — 160 copies
The Best American Poetry 2009 (2009) — Contributor — 133 copies
The Best American Essays 1996 (1996) — Contributor — 130 copies
The Best American Poetry 1993 (1993) — Contributor — 127 copies
The Best American Poetry 1992 (1992) — Contributor — 101 copies
The Best American Poetry 2012 (2012) — Contributor — 79 copies
The Hungry Ear: Poems of Food and Drink (2012) — Contributor — 62 copies
The Ecopoetry Anthology (2013) — Contributor — 47 copies
Good Roots: Writers Reflect on Growing Up in Ohio (2006) — Contributor — 22 copies
The Poetry Cure (2005) — Contributor — 19 copies
A Dream of Summer: Poems for a Sensuous Season (2004) — Introduction — 18 copies
Necessary Light: poems by Patricia Fargnoli (Swenson Poetry Award) (1999) — Foreword, some editions — 17 copies
The Analog Sea Review: Number One (2018) — Contributor — 9 copies


Common Knowledge

Canonical name
Oliver, Mary
Date of death
Cleveland, Ohio, USA
Place of death
Hobe Sound, Florida, USA
Cause of death
Places of residence
Provincetown, Massachusetts, USA
Bennington, Vermont, USA
Florida, USA
Maple Heights, Ohio, USA
Ohio State University
Vassar College
Cook, Molly Malone (partner)
Case Western Reserve University (teacher)
Bennington College (teacher)
Awards and honors
Shelley Memorial Award (1969/1970)
Lannan Literary Award (Poetry, 1998)
American Academy of Arts and Letters Academy Award (Literature, 1983)
New England Booksellers Association Award for Literary Excellence ( [1999])
Guggenheim Fellowship
National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship
Steven Barclay Agency
Bill Reichblum (literary executor)
Short biography
Mary Oliver (1935-2019) was born in Ohio and as a teenager lived briefly in the home of Edna St. Vincent Millay, helping Millay's family sort through the poet's papers. She attended both Ohio State University and Vassar College, though she did not receive a degree.

Her first collection of poems, No Voyage, and Other Poems, was published in 1963. Since then, she has published numerous books, including New and Selected Poems (1992), which won the National Book Award, and American Primitive (1983), for which she won the Pulitzer Prize.

"Mary Oliver's poetry is an excellent antidote for the excesses of civilization," wrote one reviewer for the Harvard Review, "for too much flurry and inattention, and the baroque conventions of our social and professional lives. She is a poet of wisdom and generosity whose vision allows us to look intimately at a world not of our making."

Her many awards include the Poetry Society of America's Alice Fay di Castagnola Award.

Mary Oliver held the Catharine Osgood Foster Chair for Distinguished Teaching at Bennington College until 2001.



"Another morning and I wake with thirst for the goodness I do not have."

Affirmations are real! Sometimes, when you're feeling down, all you have to do is read some Mary Oliver to remind you of the gentle beauty of life. Simple and sweet and poignant. And most of all, good. (Not that it has to be.)
telamy | 16 other reviews | Nov 6, 2023 |
Once Again

Mary's tender words,
her lyrical progeny
offers me comfort
telamy | 8 other reviews | Nov 6, 2023 |

i have meandered my way through and found that this is not my favorite collection of mary oliver's. usually her boundless positivity and adoration of nature really uplifts me, but this one didn't feel so devotional! still simplistic in its beauty. but it felt a little disjointed, too. i think they should have all been about water/the ocean/the beach/the animals present
instead of moving around through different ideas so flippantly. or maybe about dreams. or SOMETHING!

favorite poems from this collection:

wild geese (obviously)

the swimmer
… (more)
telamy | 14 other reviews | Nov 6, 2023 |
There are moments that cry out to be fulfilled.
Like, telling someone you love them.
Or giving your money away, all of it.

Your heart is beating, isn't it?
You're not in chains, are you?

There is nothing more pathetic than caution
when headlong might save a life,
even, possibly, your own.
telamy | 20 other reviews | Nov 6, 2023 |



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