Wednesday, February 29, 2012


Dear Mary will be on a brief hiatus during AWP (February 29-March 4). Posts will resume on March 5.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Clear-eyed Spirituality

Dear Mary,

I am so sorry to hear you are ill, and I am praying for your care and strength and healing.

I want to thank you for your poems. I found them at my Episcopal church where they were often quoted in the homily or printed in the bulletin and I reread your books often. I've been more loving to myself and others when I remember I don't have to go on my knees. "Blackwater Pond" has magic in it, and I feel it every time I begin to read it. Your unique gift of clear-eyed spirituality in the natural world has made a difference to me and to how I am able to love. Thank you, again and always.

Blessings of comfort I send to you with love,

Eve Leonard

Monday, February 27, 2012


Dear Mary,

“Every Morning” captures me absorbing the “craziness we have so far no name for.” For twenty years, “the sheets of white paper have / passed under my hand and I have tried / to improve their peaceful / emptiness” – leaving me twenty to go to reach my own forty years. Can we want more from a poem than to read it and feel understood?

As a writer, too, I’m nourished by your words. That you revise through forty or fifty drafts before you “begin to feel content” helps allow me to accept the failures of my own early drafts, and to revise again and again. Your advice about solitude is as true of a novel as it is of a poem: “For the poem … is created through work in which the interweavings of craft, thought, and feeling are intricate, mysterious, and altogether ‘mortal.’ Interrupt—and the whole structure can collapse.” It’s a hard thing to claim time for oneself and one’s work, and a blessing to be told I not only can claim it, but must.

“Out of pain,
and pain, and more pain
we feed this feverish plot”

I hope, in your illness, you will be “nourished by the mystery” with which you have nourished us.

With warmest regards,
Meg Waite Clayton

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Stopping My Heart In Its Tracks

Dear Mary, 

My file cabinet overflowed with poems I loved, all in folders of my favorite poets. One day, overwhelmed, I threw them all out with the newspapers, all but your poems from House of Light.  I have them before me now.

I think how many times I've said, "That is the most beautiful thing in the world": my first granddaughter's face on the day she was born, her golden eyelashes glinting; the ice dancers with their common names--Charlie, Meryl--their power, their strength, their flight; and "Music," I told my last granddaughter, whose eleven-year-old voice is a candle flame, "is the most important thing in the world." 

Then your words, over and over again, stopping my heart in its tracks-- the slim ship of the swan, filled with white flowers--"and it moves on its miraculous muscles as though time didn't exist."  Your words I keep and treasure, with thanks.

Lianne Spidel

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Little Tools

Dear Mary,

I hold your hand, whisper in your ear, "I love you." All those who heard your voice, read your words: We love you. We love you. For you gave us poems, like little tools in a toolbox, to fix almost everything that was troubling us. You gave sweet nothings that were everything, placed them in our hearts and calmed our crazy minds. You gave us the power to see, told us to believe in our imagination. Your wisdom became our mother. We are astonished because you led us there.

Thank you,
Valerie Brooks

Friday, February 24, 2012

Beautifully Simple Sense of Things

Dear Mary,

Your books, your words are how we recognize our kindred spirits, woo our beloveds, salve our souls, shake up our brains and hearts. If by some ordinary magic our words can return all this soul-filling wonder, joy, satisfaction of mind and spirit to you (I imagine it like rain soaking into the forest floor-many textures, varied paths to fill waiting capillaries) and that reflection of your gifts can somehow heal you or help you as your gifts have healed and helped us, then we will only have paid back a small part of what we have received. Thank you for your quiet noticing, for your attention, for your beautifully simple sense of things. For your well-chosen words. For the words left out. For sharing all of these with us.  Your books are among the most well-worn in my collection- frequently consulted- with favorites for certain seasons or occasions, frequently gifted in whole or in part as needed and very deeply cherished. Thank you.     

Annie Keville

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Comfort, Inspiration, and Pleasure

Dear Mary,

Your work is a constant source of comfort, inspiration, and pleasure for me. It has been for so many years.

I live in the 'country' and find resonance in every word of your gorgeous works.

Whether my heart is heavy or light; my soul weary or wondrous; I find a friend in your work and through it, in you.

So, 'Friend', I'm sorry to hear that you are ill and I hope you get well soon.

I wish to you the same solace, wisdom, joy, and beauty that you have given me time and time and time again.

With regard and appreciation,

Courtney Shore

My Work Is Loving the World

Dear Mary,

I'm so sorry to hear you're unwell. Like so many others, your work has a precious influence in my life. When I came upon your work I was a suited (and not so happy) professional living in London. 'Absorbing' those texts provided the fuel required on the journey to where I am today--a full-time (v. happy) painter based in Cork City, Ireland.

When things have been tough, I always find a spur in your words that not only topped up the tank but drove me forward. The most amazing gift has been how you helped me to see, feel &
marvel in the glory & abundance of nature.

I am overwhelmed daily by the abundance of my native place and feel even given 10 lifetimes, I could never document the glory of the natural world that surrounds me. Because of you, "My work is loving the world ... which is mostly standing still and learning to be astonished."

Thank you for everything. Please get well soon.

Sending love, light & best wishes,

Cora Murphy

Ps: You also helped me to see the merits of 'waking early'..... which is no bad thing!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Your Words Have Sustained Me

Dear Mary,

Your words have sustained me, in so many ways, over the years.  During your illness, I hope you can realize comfort and peace, knowing how your work of being present to the world, to life in all its mystery, has enriched countless people.

I send you healing wishes.

With gratitude,

Kathy Wade
Faculty, Women Writing for a Change

The Strength To Fight

Dear Mary,

Whenever I hear people say, “I don’t like poetry,” I simply refer them to one of your books, knowing your words will draw them in – heart, mind, and soul.

I've incorporated my love of poetry in my work as a coach, and clients have often been able to articulate major emotional issues after I’ve read one of your poems to them.

For example, Emily was the Executive Director of a mental health service agency. She hired me because she had creative ideas to enhance services in the larger community but found it difficult to influence her peers in other agencies. She'd grown up being expected to take care of others and her peers saw her as their “relationship guru,” which had kept her from taking tough stands with them. "The Journey" spoke so deeply to Emily, she kept a framed copy over her desk as a daily reminder that she had the strength to fight for her ideas.

Thank you,
Mary Bast

Strength and Warmth and Light

Dear Mary,

Your poems have shaped the woman that I am today. You have made me a better person, you have made my experience through this short and remarkable life so much richer. I lay my gratitude at your feet, and I am not alone in this. Your existence is a great service to humanity. 

All the lives you have touched, including mine, are reaching back to you with love and grace, sending you strength and warmth and light.

Alisa Singh

Sunday, February 19, 2012

A Guide Through So Many Key Times

Dear Mary,
I found your poem "The Journey" when I was in college. It guided me through the hardest time of my life to date, and gave me courage to make a difficult choice. Since that time, I have fallen in love with your words, and they have buoyed me, comforted me and made me take notice of the world around me. Your words are at the bottom of my email signature, a mantra or motto of sorts. To say "thank you" seems inadequate since you have guided me through so many key times.
I teach high school English, and I expose my students to your words every chance I get, because they are the sorts of things they desperately need to hear. I hope that the passion with which I teach your poems inspires them, and serves as a true example of my gratitude.
Wishing you blessings and comfort in this difficult time.
With love,
Amy Estes

Your Voice Has Rung Out On Dark Nights

Dear Mary,
One day you finally knew
what you had to do and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice—

Thank you, thank you! Your voice has rung out on dark nights urging me to follow my inner voice. I obeyed.
I’m so sorry to hear that the wind is prying with its stiff fingers at your door.
Empowered by your poetry, I add my voice to the many who have heard your call to action and hope you find what you need at this time in whatever form it arrives at your door. Live in health, rest in peace, dear poet. Your voice has made a difference.

Deborah Goemans 

Wild and Precious

Dear Mary, 

You have inspired so many with your wild and precious poetry. Here is a poem I wrote for you.

For Mary Oliver

This fresh sandspur is light green like Japanese tea. It dares you to touch it, feel the tiny spines that swirl out like planets in a galaxy, pressed into the mother sun. The tips are sharp as shards of glass and small enough to worm though fingerprints. So much work to protect a seed for a plant that nobody wants. But it doesn’t matter. You can hold the all of it between index finger and thumb, lightly, the spines tickling the edges of your fingers. And though you could close your grip on the little star of pain, you don’t. Instead, you lift it up to the sun, one eye closed, the other peering through the prickly burrs into the green world of what it wants to be. Tell me, what do you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

Diane Mooney

Your Words Woke Me Up

Dear Mary,

"Every day I see or hear something that more or less kills me with delight." 

Your words woke me up, changed my life.  Thank you. 

Loving thoughts,
Judy Walsh

The Poems Never Let Me Down

Dear Mary,

I came across Twelve Moons in Gotham Book Mart in New York City in 1979. Thank you for that collection and for the many poems you have generously offered to your readers before and since. I return to Dream Work again and again, as I often teach it in a poetry survey class. The poems never let me down. Ago tibi gratias.

Ann E. Michael

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Powerful Spells

Dear Mary,

I am a psychotherapist and artist living in San Francisco. Outside my office window, the plum tree is blooming. There is a stack of your books on the floor next to my chair. Both the tree and the books sustain and hold me. I have read your poems to clients, friends, and lovers over the years. They have been life savers, guides, and anchors. Your poems have been amongst the most powerful spells I have known in this lifetime, a weaving of words and energies with the power to heal and transform.

I have had the great privilege to have heard you read some of my most beloved poems in my beloved city of San Francisco.

Thank you.

Deborah Cooper

Deep Recognition

Dear Mary,

Reading some of your poems brings me to tears, not of sadness, but deep recognition. I've been privileged to read some of your poems aloud, sometimes to people who said they didn't really like poetry, and they loved your words. One of your books is among the first I downloaded for my new Kindle, and more will follow as I love having your poems a click away. 

I'm looking for things I can say to let you know how much your writing means to me, and I'm not doing very well. Perhaps you can read my deep gratitude in the spaces between the words. With the multitude of others who love your work, I hold you in my thoughts and wish you all the healing you need.

Thank you,
Mary Pat Lynch

Strength to Face Each Day

Dear Mary,

Three years ago, my daughter gave me Thirst and White Pines. My husband and I have never looked back. All of your books are at our bedside and we read you each morning along with Michael Mayne and Frederick buechner and Esther deWaal. My husband has advancing Parkinsons and it is so much your poetry that gives us strength to face each day full of joy and strength. We pay attention in ways we never did before knowing you. We join all others in wishing you well through this difficult period and hope that you know how dearly and passionately you are loved by so many people. 

Anni and David Willis

Thrushing, Thrumming

Dear Mary,
Your words give pollen to the wind
healing future flowers
weaving solace 
unknitting brows

until only love is left 
thrushing through our skin
thrumming Mussorgsky
so we know you live.
Joy Weatherwax

Friday, February 17, 2012

Beauty in the Fragility of Life

Dear Mary,

In the spring of 1994 my son underwent an unrelated cord blood transplant at Duke University Medical Center .  It was a fearful, terrible time.  One afternoon, I slipped out long enough to hear you read in the Rare Books Room of the Library.  Your reading of"Wild Geese" lifted my heart and gave me strength to go back and face many difficult days ahead.  You helped me find beauty in the fragility of life and to remember to savor every single moment of breath in the body.  To this day, any time I hear a line from that poem, my soul ascends to a higher space and I am once again grateful to have been on the planet at a time when I could read and hear your words.

Thinking of you and sending healing thoughts your way.

Sarah Sullivan

Graced My Life

Dear Mary,    

Your poetry has graced my life for years.   Your voice on the cd reading your work is a gift that keeps on giving and will well into my coming years. 

Liz White

A Weaving of Words and Energies

Dear Mary,

I am a psychotherapist and artist living in San Francisco. Outside my office window, the plum tree is blooming. There is a stack of your books on the floor next to my chair. Both the tree and the books sustain and hold me. I have read your poems to clients, friends, and lovers over the years. They have been life savers, guides, and anchors. Your poems have been amongst the most powerful spells I have known in this lifetime, a weaving of words and energies with the power to heal and transform.

I have had the great privilege to have heard you read some of my most beloved poems in my beloved city of San Francisco.

Thank you.

Deborah Cooper

Learning How to Find My Own Brilliance

Dear Mary,

Your words have moved me from despair to joy. “Messenger” inspired me to design a Tarot spread to move more deeply into the concept of what my work in the world is by learning how to find my own brilliance.  Because you were brave enough to share your words, I’ve found a way to seek my own joy. Thank you. May the Universe continue to show you ways to be astonished.

Seek Joy,
Arwen Lynch

The Dazzle of the Light

Dear Mary,

I came across your poems during a time when I needed my eyes and heart opened to what Whitman called “the dazzle of the light.” Why I Wake Early was a large part of why I overcame my struggles with depression. Your words, “I live in the open-mindedness of not knowing enough about anything,” continue to inspire me, and I remind my high school students of this quote multiple times each semester. You have helped me realize my own thirst for knowledge and for the world itself. I hope to honor you and other poets with each word I write.

For your wisdom I am forever grateful.


P. J. Williams

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Update on Mary Oliver

From Mary Oliver's Facebook page

"Dear Friends: Mary Oliver thanks all of her readers for the outpouring of good wishes. She is doing better, and anticipates a full recovery. The use of the word "serious" in explaining her illness has been perhaps over used. She will be fine and looks forward to feeling better and better
Thank you"

"The Journey" Is My Story

Dear Mary,

I can hardly put into words what your poems have meant to me. If I have a sad morning, I take out my New and Selected Poems by you and I read. A calmness comes over me and the images and scenes roll along as I say yes, yes that is true. I always feel better when I put the book down. "The Journey" is my story and "The Pinewoods" is how I feel about the world. Your poetry is a gift, a wonderful gift to many, many people. Thank you so much; from the bottom of my heart, I thank you. 

Barbara Nicholson

I Have Sprouted Antenna

Dear Mary,

I hope this poem can portray my love and appreciation of you and your words more accurately than my prose. 
Forever an inspiration, forever in my thoughts, 
-Amanda Michelle Holt

Reading Mary Oliver

The den fills
With cricket-stutter,
They struggle with their own names
Over and over
as I begin.
I have swathed myself in Mom’s duvet,
Yellow as fern fronds

She wafts in without knocking,
muddies the tile with drought-dust,

I am naked now.

She does not stand over me,
But kneels--
I hear her humming
Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen,
As she lifts the rag,
Melts the makeup into tar creeks
On my cheeks.

“Let them stay.” She says.

I have sprouted antenna.
I touch everything with them,
Twine-tickle every part of myself.
I rub my new limbs together,
twitter the scherzo
from Mahler’s 6th

Before she leaves,
She kisses my breast,
Says, “This is what the branch feels
When it lets go
Of the last dangling leaf.”

Risk Greatly, Wonder Deeply

Dear Mary, 

A handful of years ago, I sat in a seaside tavern in Scotland beside my lover in a sunlit corner, glasses of wine and a platter of cheese and grapes between us. We were celebrating life and the aching intensity of young love. In a lull, he asked me to close my eyes. I heard the rustling of his pack, the turning of pages, and finally, his Irish lilt as it curled around the words of your poem, "Wild Geese."

Your poem was so lovely that—with my eyes still closed—I asked him to read it again.

For reasons I may never entirely understand, that love was not destined to last. But in that moment another love story was birthed. In the years since, your poetry has been my constant companion, the proverbial soundtrack behind my meandering journey. By turns, your poetry has been my comfort and my inspiration. It has encouraged me to risk greatly, wonder deeply, and age gracefully. The debt that I owe you for each of these gifts is inestimable.

May the blessedness you have released into the world return to you in abundance, infusing this shadowed time with hope and healing.

Kristin Perry

Rolled Flat Back on the Earth

Dear Mary,

The world gathers Lovingly around you now. You are precious to so many of us who have been on our knees, found a word or ten thousand  you have written, and rolled flat back on the earth or the rug or the back of a car and cried from your welcome of belonging. I have read your poetry and it has been a part of my own healing journey. I have moved to your poetry. I have sat with you many times, shared in your visions, and hummed to the sound of your earthed words. 

I want you to know we are all holding lanterns. Each word you have ever written has become a spark. That spark is being passed around the world to each of us, providing Light for you now. Any time in the night's waking.... all you have to do is breathe...and you will see us walking with you, lanterns lit, making way for all you need to move forward and continue. 

You are not alone. We are with you each step of the way through this next cycle of your life. 

I send you healing prayers and tenderness, fierceness when needed and Love throughout,

Wendy Golden-Levitt

No Words of My Own

Dear Mary,

Your poems have been there for me when I lost my way, or had no words of my own for what I was experiencing. I’m grateful.

Sending you prayers for healing, and for a peaceful spirit.

Cindy Crosby

A Summer Day

Dear Mary,
It has been more than 20 years ago that I attended a seminar and the presenter read "A Summer Day." My soul knew that it had heard something amazing. I had to find out more about you and your work. Happily, I now own most of your books of poetry and they have given me much such blessing and inspiration.

Also, I am a therapist. When I need to make a point with a client, I often go to one of your poems. The result is always the same......the necessary tears come, or there is a moment of profound silence that speaks the awareness that needs to come. Your book New and Selected Poems is sitting on a table in my office as I write this.

You have spoken to and for several generations of women. I thank you for your work. I look forward to new poems, and wish you a healing to your body and spirit, that you have given to so many of us.
Warmest regards,

Carol G. Adams, LCSW

Shaping Language

Dear Mary,

Your words matter to me because you show that poetry matters, that it is a human heart and mind, in your case quite remarkable ones, shaping language in the struggle to communicate what lies deepest.  I read your poems constantly and study them. But I also use them in a feminist, poetry-based havurah called "Fringes," which means that here in Philadelphia, a group of women have been praying your words monthly for five years now.

From that community to you, our blessings and a prayer for refuah shlema - a healing of body, of mind, and of spirit.

Elliott batTzedek

What is Difficult For Most of Us

Dear Mary,

A dear friend just sent me your poem about love. It's difficult for most of us to put into words what love means, even though we recognize when it's deeply felt. So thank you for putting into words those feelings. I wish you a fast and complete recovery from your illness.

Janet Bartz

The Persistent Forward Motion of the Sea

Dear Mary,

As you recover, I am wishing you the peace, strength, and persistent forward motion of the sea, the clear-eyed animals, and the trees. May you find yourself walking among the dunes and black-watered ponds again very soon.

With all my best wishes, and with gratitude for all the strength your writing has given me over the years,
Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies naturalist, 2001-2005
and an admirer of your poetry
for many more years than that

Changing the Way I Inhabit the World

Dear Mary,

There are poets I read because they are clever, poets I read because they do interesting things with language, and poets I read because reading their work changes the way I inhabit the world. Poets in that last category are Rilke, Hafiz, and you. All I know to say is Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. You will never know what a difference you have made. 

Kathryn Stinson

An Inspirational Jump Start

Dear Mary, 

Your lines "You don't have to be good, you just have to..." have been an inspirational jump start that I have used in my writing groups for years. These words led us to consider our purpose and our passions in the world, no matter our challenges or our regrets. "Wild Geese" helped illumine my way through grieving the death of my son. I could "stop walking through the desert on my knees" and figure out what to do with my "wild and precious life." "The Journey"-- "determined to save the only life (I) could save"-- has been a mantra of insight, that my survival is sacred as well as my love.

May you be comforted as you have comforted others.

Thank you and bless you.
Wendy Brown-Baez

As I Journey In My Life

Dear Mary,

I am sorry to hear that you are not well. I will keep you in my thoughts, prayers, and hopes for gentle healing.  I have said hello to you many times in Privincetown as you walked your bischon on the beach. I appreciate your poetry as it has often helped open my heart in ways l needed.

I have many of your poems indexed on my iPhone to have with me as I journey in my life and share your writings with many that I meet. You are an inspiration to so many, Mary. Know that the same inspiration comes your way, to help support and love you at this time.
Love& Blessings 
          Dyhanna Noble

They Knew Something About These Creatures

Dear Mary,

Your poetry was a crucial highlight for many of the children in my poetry workshops in mostly rural South and North Carolina in the late 80's-early 90s because they could see those buzzards and deer and snakes and bears sleeping like two sisters and they knew something about these creatures. Your poetry made them want to know more.  And so they wrote in astonishing ways in response to your astonishing poems.  "Thank you" is inadequate for the good your words did then and now, too. 
All blessings to you in your hours of need. 
Christina Pacosz

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


"Swan" is the poem of the month over at Mary Oliver's Beacon Press site.

I Wasn't Toiling Alone in the Wilderness

Dear Mary,
We met very briefly at the Ohio Poetry Day get-together in 1981 or there-abouts.  I had just started writing poetry again; so much of poetry was modern then, but I wanted to write nature poetry.  It was such a pleasure hearing you read, and afterwards I looked up your written works and was happily impressed.  Knowing that I wasn't alone toiling in the wilderness (or under-developed areas) was a real inspiration.  I am from Cleveland and graduated from Collinwood in '49, but after that I lived here on the Marblehead peninsula and raised a family.  Poor old Cleveland!   I was so happy to finally live in the country. 
Hope you are soon able to be out and about when the red-wing blackbirds return to our northern zones.
Marian Veverka

The Light Shining Within Trees

I wish you the light shining within trees and all things—
Susan Rogers
What Trees Say
Toyama, Japan
In the shrine
of an unknown God
I follow the path 
of seekers.
We have come
to this holy ground
charged with light
to offer respect and prayer.
The tour leader
does not know whom
is  honored here
or how to address
our greeting properly.
He knows the language
of the country but cannot
decipher the name of God
from the weathered sign
at the entrance to the shrine.
I am at a loss as how to pray
or speak in harmony
with this ancient place.
So many Gods—
which one is here?
I pause at the top
of  many steps
admiring light
sifting through  leaves
bringing every color
into clarity.
Where are the answers
that I need? I wrap
my arms around a tree
and lean there,
In quiet I hear 
The second one
says “Focus.”
The third is silent.
As is the fourth,
but I wait there
measuring silence
sinking into the heart
of tree
until I finally hear
the warmth
of an inner knowing
filling me,
these unknown trees—
this light filled sky
and I in communion.

The World of Poetry Fully Opened For Me

Dear Mary,

I had the good fortune of studying poetry under R.T. Smith when I was an undergraduate at Auburn University, back in the late 1980s and early 1990s. But it wasn't until I moved to Colorado and roamed the poetry shelves of Boulder Bookstore that the world of poetry fully opened for me. That's when I happened upon American Primitive, and it continues to be a book I turn back to again and again.

Thank you, and godspeed.

Simmons Buntin

A Long Walk on the Dunes

Dear Mary,

I'm very sorry to hear of your illness : am thinking of you (remembering a long walk on the dunes in Provincetown years ago...) . I hope the treatment does what it should in the swiftest time, and that you'll be back in the midst of your life and your work soon.

Very best to you,

Marilyn Hacker

The Wind and Water and Living Earth

Dear Mary,

Your words have opened my heart again and again. May some of the wisdom and knowing  you have shared be now coming to you, in concentric waves of love, non-referential love, that I know you have felt  in the wind and water and living Earth herself.

Denise F. Finch

My Essential Companions

Dear Mary,

For some twenty years, your poems have been my essential companions, read over and over again.  I am an Episcopal priest, and I have used them in sermons, on retreats, in teaching, and most important, for my own soul journey.  You have called me deeper into relationship with the natural world and the divine mystery, taught me to look and look again, expressed the depth of love I feel with my sweet old dog, helped me live in wonder.  You have given me courage and joy, you have challenged me to live wholeheartedly, you have made me think, you have touched my heart and imagination.  I am deeply saddened to hear of your illness; please know that you are held in my prayers.

With profound gratitude,

Liz Maxwell

An Inspiration To Me and Countless Others

Dear Mary,
My mother introduced me to your poetry, and it resonates deeply with both of us because we are nature lovers and my mom has a special affinity for birds in particular.
I don't know what to add to the previous posts, except I'm so sorry to hear this news and I wish you well in treatment for your illness.
Your work has been an inspiration to me and countless others. Thank you for your incredible contribution to the world. It means more than you will ever know.
Best Wishes,
Hannah Lyn

Poetry Is What There Is To Do

Dear Mary,
I have long been a lover of the body and have used "Wild Geese" more times than I can count. Thank you for that and for your confidence that poetry is what there is to do.

Karin Spitfire

Your Poems Are Warm Rocks I Hold in My Hand

Dear Mary,

I wake each morning in my house in Alaska, turn on the kettle, and sit down with a book of your poems.  This is how I begin my day, and how I've begun my days for years.  Your poems are warm rocks I hold in my hand as I hike through my days, and the large sticks I use to get over the rough patches.  They are the water I drink, and the words I use to pray.  Thank you for giving us so much.  I am sending you prayers and healing thoughts.

With gratitude and peace,

Emily Wall

Words that Feel So Familiar to Me It Startles

dear mary,

my dear friend wendy golden-levitt sent me a link to a website where i learned that you are ill.

wendy said you might like to hear from me (shocking me, of course) and so i will tell you this: you are the poet who writes with words that feel so familiar to me it startles.

only recently have i found you-tube videos of you reading your poems, and i have loved hearing your voice, and seeing your eyes twinkle.

i will tell you this: i wish you didn't have to deal with illness, knowing that most of us do. i wish you could write and write and write, knowing that's an impossible and crazy wish.

please know that i will hold you in my heart, easy because you are already there. i wish you strength and good spirits.

and i send you my deepest respect and caring
and love,
velma bolyard

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Marsh Hawk, a Lily, or the Blue Air

Dear Mary,

Your willingness to respond to the world as a primary focus in your poetry has steadied me time and time again.  Your writing craft awakened me to the music of words and to understanding how either belief or doubt can offer poetic structure. 

In 2001, a friend and I took a two-hour bus ride to Manhattan to hear you read at the 92nd Street Y.  It was worth every minute—not only for your reading and the consideration you gave to each question you were asked afterward but also for the packed auditorium, for the hunger of the other women there, for the confirmation of my own hunger for ways to express what it is to be alive as a female on this Earth in this moment.

For me, you have modeled courage in your expressions of joy and your expressions of grief.  Your voice, bringing alive on the page a marsh hawk, a lily, or the blue air, has helped me persist in my own explorations. I have been emboldened by the spiritual connection in your writing.  I hope that connection emboldens you now.

My very best wishes,
Marilyn Hazelton

Sense of Oneness with the Natural World

Dear Mary,

We have never met, but you will always be dear Mary to me because of how profoundly you have touched not only my life but also the countless others with whom I have shared your poems.

I am sure that many people who come to your poems are first drawn by a shared appreciation of nature, but you take your readers to another place, where there is a sense of oneness with that natural world, of 
belonging, and of the eternal longing to belong.

When I think of your poems, I close my eyes and see the birds you have followed, the dog, the marsh pond, the mud and the muck, the sound of tides.

You have influenced not only my work, but my being, in the deepest possible way:  You showed me how to look harder, listen more closely, be more attuned. You have shown me how inevitable, and possibly 
necessary, fear is, and how important it is to go past fear. And you also showed me how gorgeous it is just to fall in love with the world,  over and over again. How replenishing to our souls.

So many of us have fallen in love with the world because your poems opened up a path, and we carry them in our hearts always.

Dominique Browning