Sunday, March 11, 2012

Mary Oliver is ill

You may have heard that Mary Oliver is sick. So many of us love her work and her spirit.

Addendum: Please scroll down to Carole's second comment. Good, good news!

From the Poetry Foundation

Mary Oliver Diagnosed with Serious Illness
BY HARRIET STAFF

Mary Oliver, who was slated to deliver the Rachel Carson Distinguished Lecture at Florida Gulf Coast University, has canceled her appearance under sad circumstances according to this article from the student newspaper Eagle News. From the article:

Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winner Mary Oliver unexpectedly canceled all public appearances, including the Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education (CESE) signature event, which was scheduled for Friday, Feb. 17 on Sanibel Island. Also effected is the Master Class with Florida Gulf Coast University students that was scheduled on campus Thursday, Feb. 16.

The Eighth Annual Fundraising Celebration on Saturday, Feb. 18 from 5:00-8:00pm on Sanibel Island will continue as planned.

Below is the official statement from the CESE:

Dear Friends of the Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education,

We write to share difficult news concerning poet Mary Oliver. We have learned that Oliver has just received an unexpected diagnosis of a very serious illness. Unfortunately, her aggressive treatment plan requires no travel and no public appearances on doctor’s orders. She had been greatly looking forward to delivering the Rachel Carson Distinguished Lecture at the Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education. We hope that you will join us in sending prayers, healing thoughts, and well wishes to Mary Oliver at this difficult time. We encourage you to spend time reading her poetry aloud.
We wish her a full and speedy recovery.

A blog named Dear Mary has been set up for well wishes and tributes.

May the love of life expressed in this poem infuse her with health and strength.

Self-Portrait

I wish I was twenty and in love with life
and still full of beans.

Onward, old legs!
There are the long, pale dunes; on the other side
the roses are blooming and finding their labor
no adversity to the spirit.

Upward, old legs! There are the roses, and there is the sea
shining like a song, like a body
I want to touch

though I'm not twenty
and won't be again, but ah! seventy. And still
in love with life, And still
full of beans.

From Red Bird
published by Beacon Press, 2008

38 comments:

  1. Oh no! I love her work so much, too. I had no idea, thanks for passing this on, Nan. So many of her poems are my favourites now. I'll be thinking of her in days to come.

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  2. I'm so sorry to hear this, Nan. I've come to appreciate Mary Oliver's poetry later in life and, in fact, just brought New and Selected Poems home from the library last week. I will be reading the, aloud, and sending prayers her way.

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    1. I have read that she is the most loved poet writing today.

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  3. That is sad to hear. We just today spent some time on Sanibel Island - a day-cation place from where we live here. I tell you this because your blog today is the first I've heard of Mary's illness. Wouldn't you think, since she was supposed to speak there, that it would have been in our (poor excuse for a) daily newspaper? Guess we should subscribe to the FSU student newspaper instead.

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    1. Isn't that interesting. Go figure. Is Sanibel where Anne Morrow Lindbergh visited? Have you read her Gift From The Sea?

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  4. I am truly sorry to hear this, and hope the treatment will work and she will be well again. Her poems are such a gift to the world.

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    1. It is always so dire to read something like this. But people do get better, and I pray she is one of them. She's so needed in this world.

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  5. I had seen this mentioned someplace else. Thank you for passing along the place we can send well wishes.

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    1. It shows how loved she is, doesn't it.

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  6. I love what I've read of her work. She writes with such appreciation for life and the world, and how we need to be really alive when we're here, not just sleep-walking through our days. I hope the treatment she's undergoing is successful.

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  7. Nan, thank you so much for this information. She is my favorite.
    Beside my old chair her books are piled. I can hardly write this for the tears. A dream was to one day meet her....

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    1. I knew you'd be upset.
      Maybe you still will meet her. I hope so.

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  8. i will be praying for her. it is sad news period.

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  9. Thank you for posting this, Nan. I discovered Mary Oliver quite by accident when I went back to school in the early 2000's to finally get my degree. I was sitting at a table in the college library, dreading a mid-term I was about to take. My eye caught the cover of a book displayed face out on the shelves. What I read in Owls and Other Fantasies carried me through the exam, and her writing has delighted and intrigued me ever since. Sending prayers and healing thoughts her way....

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    1. Thank you for telling me. Is 'owls' feathers' connected to this?
      That would be a nice story to post on the Dear Mary blog.

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    2. The owl connection - Being assigned a nickname was a rite of passage when my father (born in 1912) was growing up in our hometown. His nickname was Owl, and I have always had a special place in my heart for all things owl.

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    3. That is amazing! I just love it. Thanks so much for coming back to tell me.

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  10. I haven't read nearly enough Mary Oliver, but each of her poems speaks so wonderfully. Were you, by chance, able to see her at Wellesley College last year?

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  11. Oh no, thank you for letting us know. It's very upsetting, I do hope she isn't suffering. Thoughts and prayers.

    Carole

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  12. I'm not very familiar with Mary Oliver's work, but I loved the poem you posted. 70's not that old. :)

    I wish Mary Oliver a speedy recovery with a minimum of fuss. It's not easy being sick and having to deal with the indignities and often debilitating treatment, but I think Miss Oliver must have a fighting spirit. That's half the battle right there.

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    1. If you want to read more, you may click on the poems tab under the banner picture, and scroll down to her name.

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  13. Just heard that she is doing better, thanks everyone for their good wishes and anticipates a full recovery.

    Carole

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    1. That is wonderful, wonderful news. I haven't looked around in a couple days so hadn't heard.

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    2. Fabulous news! Hope she continues to recovery in body mind and spirit! Aloha!

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  14. I haven´t read any of her poems. I looked her up at google and she sounds interesting. Sads news she is sick.

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    1. There are more of her poems here on the blog - if you click the poems tab under the banner picture and scroll down.

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  15. My dear Mary Oliver,

    My heart is with you. I too have always wanted to meet you and learn from you. I know this world still needs you, so I am praying that words of your recovery are true...that you will soon be back to the walking and animals and writing and all the things and people you love.

    It doesn't matter that you ever meet me. You will be okay without that, but I pray for your healing.

    a poet/admirer
    mary b-l

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    1. You might want to post these beautiful heartfelt words on the Dear Mary blog.

      http://formaryoliver.blogspot.com/

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  16. Has anyone got any further confirmation that Mary Oliver is on the mend?

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    1. I wrote to Beacon Press, her publisher, just this week to see if anyone there knew anything, and they don't. All they know is that her future appearances have been postponed until further notice. I've searched online but can't seem to find any news.

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