Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Last night I went to hear Mary Oliver reading her poems. As always, she was truly magnificent. The auditorium was packed, with many standing outside vainly hoping for tickets.
Mary Oliver presents herself not as a celebrity, but as a real human being. Her sharp wit was evident throughout. When she was asked why she had spent so much time outside as a child, she answered she just didn't want to spend too much time in the house.
When someone asked about the terrible events in Virginia on the campus of the Polytechnical Institute, she answered in words we could all agree with: that in our country it seems that violence is presented as the only solution to disagreement or unhappiness. But she added, that it was up to "us" to keep the song of hope alive even in the midst of the songs of despair.
She also noted that although last year she had turned to organized religion (the Episcopal Church) for comfort after the death of her companion of forty years, she later felt that she no longer desired the liturgy but rather a return to nature itself as her source of sustenance. She added that though her latest book was called "Thirst," that would not be the title of her next one (suggesting, I assume, that her life has taken a new turn.)
Mary Oliver is a master poet, a noble woman, and an inspiration to us all. Few manage to go through life with such unfailing grace and continuing expression of love for the earth and its inhabitants.
She explained that it was not correct to call her an ecologist. She describes herself as one who loves the natural world and is its close observer.