Thursday, November 23, 2017

In case you wondered …

… What Mary Oliver’s Critics Don’t Understand | The New Yorker. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Oliver’s new book, “Devotions” (Penguin Press), is unlikely to change the minds of detractors. It’s essentially a greatest-hits compilation. But for her fans—among whom I, unashamedly, count myself—it offers a welcome opportunity to consider her body of work as a whole. Part of the key to Oliver’s appeal is her accessibility: she writes blank verse in a conversational style, with no typographical gimmicks. But an equal part is that she offers her readers a spiritual release that they might not have realized they were looking for. Oliver is an ecstatic poet in the vein of her idols, who include Shelley, Keats, and Whitman. She tends to use nature as a springboard to the sacred, which is the beating heart of her work. Indeed, a number of the poems in this collection are explicitly formed as prayers, albeit unconventional ones.
I, too, am a fan.

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