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Archive for January 23rd, 2019


And if you’re quite familiar with Mary Oliver’s books, you have probably encountered this lovely and uplifting small hardbound volume  of Upstream. It’s a collection of essays of Mary Oliver that provides anecdotes and meditations, her life as a writer and  as a lover of nature. It was published in October 2016.

Thus the book begins with these words: “In the beginning I was so young and such a stranger to myself I hardly existed. I had to go out into the world and see it and hear it and react to it, before I knew at all who I was, what I was, what I wanted to be.” 

Unlike her poetry, these essays paint a fuller picture of how she was as a writer, how her life revolved around those things that ordinarily we wouldn’t even appreciate, turtle eggs and hatchlings, owls, spiders, trees, gulls, sunflowers  and the sea. She touched on such renowned authors like Emerson, Whitman and Poe. Learning something about the lives of these writers made me appreciate their words more.

I began reading this book two years ago but I read the essays in increments preferring the lovely poems in her other books. You could actually read it in just one sitting but imagining those scenes described in the book makes you pause and think about life.

At the end of the book, she gave a short tribute to the place where she lived for fifty years in Provincetown, Massachusetts. She ended her prose with: “I don’t know if I am heading toward heaven or that other, dark place, but I know I have already lived in heaven for fifty years. Thank you, Provincetown”.

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