This book will provide an overview of the writing career of Mary Oliver by analyzing
her poems in detail, explicating them by reference to her own prose writings and
the essays by her critics, and by placing them in their most appropriate contexts,
which include an American and English Romantic tradition, and a post-war American
context which includes her key contemporaries Sylvia Plath and Adrienne Rich.
I am now the editor of Salt Wales, the Welsh section of Salt publishing, which is
looking to expand its poetry publishing in Wales. I will be happy to receive unsolicited
Salt, which has an international scope and reputation, achieved by its award-winning
and innovative web presence, and which is expanding its publishing in Wales, has
put me in charge of the commissioning of books in this country. This involves the
reading of manuscripts, interacting with authors and with Literature Wales (formerly
Academi), who will also advertise Salt’s activities, and mediating between Welsh
authors and Salt’s headquarters in Cambridge.
I am currently working on a book on the American poet Mary Oliver.
Current support for others' research
Astonishingly little critical attention has been paid to Mary Oliver whose importance
nonetheless is clear from the esteem in which she is held by fellow poets and the
prizes she has won (including the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award). She
was recently described in The New York Times as ‘the best-selling poet in America.’ Her
work is highly distinctive, especially in its tendency to celebrate experience and
its emphasis on happiness: as the important American poet Stanley Kunitz has written: ‘Her
special gift is to connect us with our sources in the natural world, its beauties
and terrors and mysteries and consolations.’ Yet her work is far from naïve and
earns its celebratory mode by acknowledging the sources of anxiety in other writers
and drawing upon them to introduce a dialogic hesitation into her poems which have
learned from postmodernist techniques and deploy them, paradoxically, to oppose postmodernist
scepticism. She can also be seen in the context of an urgent postmodern discussion
of Nature, and can be compared to other practitioners of ‘ecopoetry’.