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Mary Oliver Mary Oliver was born in 1935 in Cleveland Ohio She now lives in Provincetown Massachusetts At one time she was a secretary for Edna St Vincent Millays sister and there is some evidence of Millays influence in Olivers early poetry Her writing has few human subjects but she draws us into her humanity through her acute focus on nature and her precision with language She is the author of several volumes of poetry including Winter Hours Prose Prose Poems and Poems 1999 West Wind 1997 White Pine 1994 New and Selected Poems 1992 which won the National Book Award House of Light 1990 and American Primitive 1983 for which she won the Pulitzer Prize Oliver has also written three books Rules for the Dance A Handbook for Writing and Reading Metrical Verse 1998 Blue Pastures 1995 and A Poetry Handbook 1994 Oliverss honors include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation 1980-1981 and from the National Endowment of the Arts 1972-1973 She has also received an American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters Achievement Award a Lannan Literary Award and the Poetry Society of Americas Shelley Memorial Prize The power of Olivers highly acclaimed poetry rests in its passionate attention to the natural world which she sees as the source of revelation about ultimate things Like her romantic predecessors Oliver locates wisdom in the wilderness she seeks in solitude where discoveries about the self and natures otherness can be made Her poems of thirty years and her recent prose collection Blue Pastures 1995 reveal an art driven by visionary conviction in a manner similar to her claimed influences William Blake and Walt Whitman Expressed in simple language and familiar imagery evoking dark and joyous states this vision of nature is often conveyed in an ecstatic voice that compels Celebratory and spiritual in her poetic vision Oliver is one of America s finest nature poets Her first collection No Voyage and Other Poems 1963
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