The art of awakening
A primary muse and fellow poet whose spirit has walked countless miles with mine has gone silent. On January 17, Mary Oliver’s battle with lymphoma came to an end. Her profound influence on my life, and the lives of millions of others around the world, is testament to the impact that one person, fully engaging their “one wild and precious life,” can have.
Oliver’s work was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the Lannan Literary Award and more. The passing of the beloved best-selling poet is being acknowledged across multiple social media channels and by major media orgs and publishers such as NPR, CBS News, The New Yorker, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Vanity Fair, Slate Magazine, Forbes Magazine and others.
For nearly two decades, I’ve written this column and provided photos with the goal of enhancing awareness of the natural world and its endless wonders. Beating like a heart beneath what appears in “River Talk” is my belief that connecting more deeply with nature can lead to clearer understanding of the interdependence underlying all of life and can help us to awaken before dying—a principle practiced by Oliver during her life and evident throughout her work.
In 2013, I began sharing images inspired by the connections between the natural world and the human heart in an ongoing series called “Wonder Watch” (www.instagram.com/heronseye). It is part of my own awakening, and an exploration of the possibility Oliver poses in her poem, “From The Book of Time,” where she writes, “. . . maybe just looking and listening/ is the real work./ Maybe the world, without us,/ is the real poem.” Thank you, Mary Oliver.
A poet who often wrote reflections on nature, Mary Oliver passed away at age 83 on January 17, 2019.
She published more than 15 collections of poetry throughout her life, beginning with “No Voyage, and Other Poems,” in 1963 and concluding with “Blue Horses,” in 2014. She won the Pulitzer Prize for her 1983 collection, “American Primitive.” Oliver also published books of prose and guidebooks on writing.