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Mary Oliver is at the top of my most admired poets list.  She is my go-to when I want to examine the natural world without leaving my doorstep, but perhaps her best lines are those that connect nature to the work of the poet.

This from her poem, titled “Work” (from the collection White Pine):

All day I work
with the linen of words
and the pins of punctuation
all day I hang out
over a desk

grinding my teethimages
Then I sleep.

Then I come out of the house,
even before the sun is up,

and walk back through the pinewoods
to Pasture Pond.

In a 2012 NPR interview, Oliver talks more about the poet as witness and how discipline and nature help shape her poems.  We are also treated here to a reading from her collection A Thousand Mornings.

If you are interested in digging deeper into Mary’s poetic vision and technique, I suggest you pick up a copy of her slim, but powerful text, A Poetry HandbookIt is the next best thing to taking her workshops, and is available at a reasonable price both new and used.

And now just for fun, a small grab-bag of Pinterest goodies featuring M. Oliver quotes for you to download and print: Instructions for Living; It is better for the heart ;One day you finally knew;Keep Some Room;We need beauty;To pay attention;I have been thinking ;Someone I loved;I want to think again;The world offers itself . FYI: These look great with dollar store frames and make lovely gifts for writerly friends.


  • Open call to poet bloggers: If you would like to contribute to next week’s Foremother Friday (inspired by the Women’s Poetry List-Serv), please drop me a line at bonesparkblog@yahoo.com.  I love hearing from you!!