A Tribute to Mary Oliver

Mary Oliver was an anomaly. Her soul was pure and she wrote straight from it, often equating things in the natural world to ideas within her own mind. She had a way of eloquently painting a picture to set the scene, transporting the reader. Mary Oliver grew up and lived most of her life in Ohio before moving to Cape Cod, Massachusetts where she spent 40 years of her adult life with partner Molly Malone Cook, who was an American photographer. The couple was extraordinarily talented, and sometimes merged their creative prowess, like in "Our World," an anthology that Oliver put together after Cook's cancer-related passing in 2005, where Mary's poems were brought to life by Molly's photographs. Oliver often referred to Molly as "M" in her writings, for example when she wrote, "I do not know everything — but a few things, which I will tell. M. had will and wit and probably too much empathy for others; she was quick in speech and she did not suffer fools. When you knew her she was unconditionally kind" (Brain Pickings, Popova). 

What most struck me about Mary Oliver was her keen eye for observation of all things: natural, emotional, personal. Mary had an insight that allowed her to zoom in on details, as found in the natural setting, while still not losing sight of the greater picture and its universality. I spent the day in a local bookstore reading her anthology entitled "Devotions." It included a lot about symbolism, mention of her late dog, Percy, her hometown in Ohio, and animals such as geese and swans, often personified. One piece in particular, Oliver expounded on her belief that rocks have feelings and that there is essentially no accuracy in the prospect of the inanimate- an interesting point to consider, especially when in nature.

If Mary Oliver has impressed anything upon me, it is to take note of the minutia in life because there really is no such thing as small details - it all matters and there is beauty and hope and light worth pursuing down every avenue. In this tribute article, more than anything, I would like for Oliver's poetry to speak for itself and to open your mind to a more contemplative and peaceful state. 

Enjoy. xx, Britt