Mary Oliver: LIfe, Poetry

Mary Oliver: Life, Poetry

“I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.”
 Mary Oliver

Petit Jean Mountain, where poetry lives

Petit Jean Mountain, where poetry lives

So many seem to find their own spirituality in writing and reading poetry, not the kind we were often taught in school, but more like the poems of Mary Oliver. In our spiritual direction course at Kanuga we meet often with a former poet laureate of North Carolina, Cathy Smith Bowers. She encouraged us to write and to read poetry. Some of the most moving comments from my blog have come when I have put up a poem.

Debra Dean Murphy in an article about Mary Oliver (“An Invitation to Wonder”, Christian Century, April 26, 2017, p 20-29) helps us understand. She reminds us that the best speakers and authors use poetic language, image metaphor, paradox. This is real life, and few speak to it as well as Mary Oliver. She is a mystic of nature, seeing nature’s beauty and seeing nature as our neighbor, calling us to be present to the present moment.  “She listens to moths, trees, and other nonhuman neighbors.”  Murphy describes the worst kind of poetry to be “preachy and argumentative”, while Oliver invites us into the wonder of what is presented to us, to learn to care about our neighbors, human and nonhuman. Christians would say Oliver is inviting us her poetry to see the Christ in each other and to experience God in creation. 

I look forward to hearing about the poems that frame your life.