Saturday, February 27, 2010

Also on Friday...

... we went to hear Mary Oliver read at UCLA's Royce Hall. Talk about rock star! This poet, now in her seventh decade like myself, managed to pretty much fill the entire hall--I'm not sure how many seats, but a big auditorium. She read with charm, with self-deprecating humor, with modesty, and her poems she picked were delightful, ranging from the well-known--"The Journey," and "Flare"--to sweet, short tributes to her dog, Percy. A keen observer of the natural world, she writes about it with obvious passion. For me, what her poems lack is a kind of bite, a complexity that leaves me engaged in what she has to say, perhaps a bit mystified, challenged to come back and read again to be sure I didn't miss some important part of them. It felt a bit like dessert to me, with the soup and the main course lacking. I love nature, too. I want to learn more than I already know, to see something I have not already seen. Perhaps, you readers of poetry out there, perhaps you disagree.


David McDonald said...

I've been reading her for the last year, and while some of her work does lack "bite" she does take me to her world and it's a clear place. Do you know if she practices or sits, her work seems to have such a relationship to zen poetry and some of the chinese poets of the past.

TaraDharma said...

I love her work...I never thought it lacks 'bite.' It's contemplative, highly observational. I identify with her words and her visions...they ring true for all time. I would have loved to see her read.

PeterAtLarge said...

Thanks for the dissenting views. These things are very personal. I don't know whether she has any form of meditation practice, she did not mention that. Tara, Ellie sides more with you than with me on this. And one thing I know: when I make a judgment of any kind, even aesthetic/critical, I'm likely to be talking about myself! Best to you...

mandt said...

it can't float away
And the rain, everybody's brother,
won't help. And the wind all these days
flying like ten crazy sisters everywhere
can't seem to do a thing. No one but me,
and my hands like fire, to lift him to a last burrow. I wait
days, while the body opens and begins to boil. I remember
the leaping in the moonlight, and can't touch it,
wanting it miraculously to heal
and spring up joyful. But finally
I do. And the day after I've shoveled the earth over, in a field nearby
I find a small bird's nest lined pale and silvery and the chicks---
are you listening death?----warm in the rabbit's fur. Mary Oliver

robin andrea said...

How lucky to hear Mary Oliver read. She is such a beautifully perceptive poet, finding the heart in all things.