Wednesday, April 25, 2012

An Occasional Whisper

Dear Mary,

It has been almost 20 years since the first time I read “The Journey.” I was in the process of getting a divorce and the poem made so much sense to me & still does.  At that time I could not read it out loud without crying, I felt it so deeply.  I have been teaching yoga & practicing healing for over 17 years.  I read this poem to my students & clients over & over again. I am now able to read it out loud with my full voice & presence, no tears - only an occasional whisper of waters coming, & that too is good.

Thank you for grounding your poetry in the natural world.

Michal Curry

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Writing Models

Dear Mary, 

Your words are always present in my teaching and in my thinking.  Your poems were among my first writing models, and The Swamp Cabbage is one of the first poems I give students to read.  "What blazes the trail is not necessarily pretty" is a mantra when I avoid writing about what's unpleasant, and, when I am trying too hard, I say, "the soft animal of the body."  You have helped me love the world and be grateful.   

Many healing wishes,
Ava Leavell Haymon

Monday, April 23, 2012

Locating Myself

Dear Mary,
I read your poems whenever I feel the need to locate myself for a moment in the world around me. I thank you for the way that they restore my senses of touch and smell and sight/insight. The harshness of the world, its gentle beauty and its glorious intelligence are all there for me. Thank you. Be well.
Betsy Wing

Sunday, April 22, 2012

We Can Do Some Good With Our Lives

Dear Mary,

The first poems of yours I read were in Bly's News of the Universe.  Then, in 1983, I was
in NYC for a summer seminar.  There were bookstores everywhere!  In a big store in an old
building, I found American Primitive.  I didn't have much money, so I pulled the books I
wanted out a little way from the others as I went along, then went back to choose the one
I would buy: yours.  I pulled it off the shelf and happened to look up at the same time; there
was a guy sitting atop a tall stepladder in the middle of the room, and he had a little gun
holstered on his belt.  The store detective.  He looked at me and nodded.  I've been reading,
and teaching, your poems ever since.  I invited you to read at Austin Peay State Univ. in
Tennessee in the late 80s I think it was.  You met with students and did a wonderful reading.
Both I and my students have always been given heart by your poems.  They speak to us
with such courage and sanity; they give us the confidence to know that we can do some
good with our lives.

I'm retired now.  I write a little and read a lot.  I'll pray for you each day to be well.

David Till

Saturday, April 21, 2012

A Little Flock

Dear Mary,

I visited your Blackwater Pond for the first time in October 2011, and was immediately greeted by a little flock of titmice who landed on the open palm of my hand. I thought, Well, these birds surely know Mary Oliver.

And so then, what a privilege it was for me to be in their company. All good love to you.

Kim Billings

Friday, April 20, 2012

Thank you for that stillness

Dear Mary:

Your words like birds laugh
in the sky of my head.
Thank you for that stillness
that I now return to you
fom my askings.

Kurt Heyl

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Tiny Iridescent Ornaments

Dear Mary,

Today I walked down my steep woodland driveway, and took my poles, and wore my hiking boots.  I am training to do the Camino de Santiago de Compostela.  I thought of you when I saw all the drops of rain on the sparse manzanita under the redwoods--- like tiny iridescent Christmas ornaments.  It is April.  They say you are getting better.  I send you a prayer and love, and the hope that you will have some fresh paper, just the right size, and a pen you like to hold.  The rain all day yesterday made the land breathe wet breaths of clean oxygen today-- gorgeous and wonderful.  I am so grateful to live in this amazing universe.
With love,
Martina Nicholson

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Something Powerful Sustains Me

Dear Mary,

Your poetry has been an integral part of my spiritual and emotional healing. It reminded me, during some tough years, that something powerful sustains me and that I, with my own internal strength and beauty, am a part of that. I still stumble from time to time and then I remember that, no matter what, I "have a place in the family of things." I am grateful to you for helping me find that place. 

I wish you much love, grace, and sustenance as you heal. 

With gratitude,
Kimberley McGill

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A Preference Changed

Dear Mary, 

I was an English major with a preference solely for prose. Hafiz invited me to explore poetry, and your poems sealed the deal.

Mari Becker

Monday, April 16, 2012

Web of Creation

Dear Mary,
Thanks for the gift of your poetry and being an original voice that shares observations of life that have multiple implications.  Best wishes for your healing and for continued hope for the web of creation that you so fervently celebrate.
Roberta Badger-Cain

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Your Poetry Has Nourished Me

Dear Mary,

I have loved reading your poetry for a number of years.  In some ways your moods (from a sorrowful to a more upbeat view of life) have paralleled mine, so your poetry has especially nourished me.  I keep your "White Owl Flies into and out of the Field" posted in my sculpture studio and have used other poems as source for sculpture ideas.  I hope you recover and find healing solace in the letters of support from people who have had their lives enriched by your writing.

Lin Lisberger

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Ordinary to Extraordinary

Dear Mary,

Your poetry has enriched my life and the life of my clients for many years.  Thank you for your gift of making the ordinary into an extraordinary experience.

With loving kindness,
Lourdes Brache-Tabar, PhD, LMHC

Friday, April 13, 2012

A Shy Student

Dear Mary,

Once you visited Carlow College in Pittsburgh to work with a group of high school students on their poetry. My English teacher thought much of my poems--more than I did--so she signed me up. You read your poems, talked about poetry and writing and the artistic life, and had us write, read aloud, and critique each other's work. It was the first time I came face-to face not only with a living, breathing artist but also with the discipline and inner, truthful beauty that an artist must cultivate. And it was fun too, another part of being an artist! I ended up going to Rhode Island School of Design for fine art, was a teacher who taught writing and art, and now write myself (taking a break now to thank you). And thank you I do, from the bottom of my heart, for being the example a shy student needed to take the courageous step into art and writing. May reading all these thank-yous give you courage too.


Elizabeth Smith

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Mary Oliver book giveaway

Beacon Press is hosting a National Poetry Month book giveaway with the winner receiving signed copies of select books by Mary Oliver. To enter, click here

Profound Gifts

Dear Mary, 

Last week, not knowing about your illness, I made a little book of favorite poems for a friend who is terribly ill. The 15 or so poems included work by Bishop, Rukeyser, Roethke, Wright, and Issa, but I began with "Daisies" and ended with "Wild Geese." Thank you for the many profound gifts that enrich and enlighten so many lives. I wish you well.

Martha Boethel

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Dark Days

Dear Mary,

The last three years have been some of the hardest in my life. My husband and I tried for most of that time to have a baby, only to be told that we couldn’t. There have been many dark days and even darker nights. Never have I cried so much, and felt so helpless. By my bedside, I keep a small book of my favorite poems, each line handprinted over the years. That little book’s spine always falls open to “Wild Geese.” It reminds me that we’ve all had dark days and I only have to look to the world around me to find connections with others.

Just last month, my husband and I finalized the adoption of our son. “Wild Geese” was the first poem I read to him as he slept in my arms for the first time. And every night since, as I rock him to sleep, I repeat this poem to him, .knowing that it will speak to him, as it’s spoken to me.


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

To Light and To Life

Dear Mary,

Last year in Richmond, VA, you brought to light and to life your words on a page. Those words are moving, in and of themselves, but through your voice, they leapt to life. When you talked about the setting for your work, the context resonated so clearly. Thank you for your gifts -- and for bringing them to us in person from time to time. This experience challenged me to see things with more clarity and to think about ordinary things more deeply.

Blessings and courage as you work to restore your health,

Ginger Smith

Monday, April 9, 2012


"Swan" is the poem of the month at Mary Oliver's Beacon Press site. Click here to read the poem.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

A Brighter, More Hopeful Place

Dear Mary,
From our poet friends of Marin county, California--we send you a very big hug and heartfelt wishes for your recovery and well-being.
When I heard your poem Wild Geese for the first time, I knew you would be a big influence in my life.  We have an open mic poetry evening once a month and it never fails that someone brings one of your poems to share.  Thank you with filling our lives with your creative and inspirational voice!  The world is a brighter, more hopeful place because you are in it! 
With much love and respect,
Janet Shirley and friends
West End Weds. Poetry Evenings
San Rafael, CA

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Only Prayer I Say on a Daily Basis

Dear Mary,

A few years ago I memorized "Wild Geese"  to recite as a my gift for a friend's birthday. It is her favorite poem. Now it is mine as well. I recite it every day, often during my morning walk or swim. It has become the only "prayer" I say on a daily basis. I hope you can hear some wild geese.

Warm thoughts and much gratitude,

Betsy McTiernan

Friday, April 6, 2012

The Fear of Not Being Good Enough

Dear Mary,

Just hours before I heard of your illness, I read "Wild Geese" to a  client. She is a burgeoning writer, paralyzed, as many of us can be, by the fear of not being good enough. As a writer; as a person. I said to her, "You don't have to be good." And when I said those words I remembered your poem. Those lines, "You do not have to be good. / You do not have to walk on your knees / for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting." I always thought those lines were written for me.  Those lines are the first thirty years of my life. Every time I read this poem aloud my heart swells and my eyes tear up. 

Thankfully, I no longer feel like I have to walk on my knees for a hundred miles through the desert. Thankfully, I now feel like I am fully living my one wild and precious life. I shared “Wild Geese” with my client, just as I remember once sharing "The Summer Day" with a client who needed to be reminded that life is beautiful and fleeting and precious. Your words heal. I thank you.

Jennifer Lunden

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Kind and Familiar

Dear Mary,

In the fall of 1981, I met you at the Ohio Poetry Day awards. 

Although this was the first poetry event that I had ever attended, what I remember more than anything else is that I met you on the page. Here was a poet, a woman, from Ohio, who wrote about a world that I admired. Your poetry was kind and familiar and friendly and tough and stubborn, and I fell in love with poetry. 

I decided that I could be a poet, that poetry was worth writing.  I later read many other poets, found much to admire in the written word, but first I found you, Mary Oliver. I have never picked up a book of yours since without remembering that you were my first friend in poetry. 

Thank you, best wishes, many prayers.
Cathryn Essinger

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Living Deeply

Dear Mary,

Your poetry means a lot to me: your deep engagement with the natural world, your compassion and your affirmation of life in all its diversity and glory. Thank you so much for living so deeply and listening so carefully to nature. Two of your lines that have really been healing and affirming for me are "Let the soft animal of your body love what it loves" and "announcing over and over your place in the family of things." Just beautiful. Thank you! 

Best wishes,
Yvonne Aburrow

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Lifted Me Up in the Darkest Times

Dear Mary,

Your poetry has always lifted me up in the darkest times and has given words to the voice in my heart. I do not take one minute for granted for my "one wild and precious life". Thank you, thank you! I hope you know how much love is being sent to you from around the world. I pray you are feeling better.

With much love and gratitude.

Norma Bowe

Monday, April 2, 2012

Blooms and Wanders

Dear Mary,

Your words echo my heart's awareness, my body's hunger.  For years, your words inhabited my dreams and my waking. I can recite much of The Leaf and the Cloud from memory. It is my favorite of your work.  It blooms and wanders like so much of our world.

Your careful words, reckless images, humble faith, and bare truth have changed my life. Unaware, you have been steadfast along my journey.

In gratitude, I wish you peace.
Elizabeth Brick

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Deep Gratitude

dear mary,

you are beautiful.

with love, and deep gratitude for your life,