*Excerpts*

Mary Oliver Essays – 10 Prose Selections to Read for Free Online!

Today, September 10, is the birthday of Mary Oliver, the late poet and nature writer!

In addition to being a renowned poet, she also published numerous essays. A collection of many of these Mary Oliver essays was published in 2016: Upstream: Selected Essays.

In honor of Mary Oliver’s birthday, we offer the following list of ten of the finest Mary Oliver essays that can be read online (a few of these are not the full essay, but a significant excerpt)!

Enjoy these essays!!!

Video Clips of
Mary Oliver
Reading Her Poems

Building the House

Originally appeared in Shenandoah Magazine
Published in the collection Winter Hours

I know a young man who can build almost anything – a boat, a fence, kitchen cabinets, a table, a barn, a house. And so serenely, and in so assured and right in a manner, that it is a joy to watch him. All the same, what he seems to care for best – what he seems positively to desire – is the hour of interruption, of hammerless quiet, in which he will sit and write down poems or stories that have come into his mind with clambering and colorful force. Truly he is not very good at the puzzle of words – not nearly as good as he is with the mallet and measuring tape – but this in no way lessens his pleasure. Moreover, he is in no hurry. Everything he learned, he learned at a careful pace – will not the use of words come easier at last, though he began at the slowest amble? Also, in these intervals, he is happy. In building things, he is his familiar self, which is he does not overvalue. But in the act of writing he is a grander man, a surprise to us, and even more to himself. He is beyond what he believed himself to be.

[ Read the full essay ]

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C. Christopher Smith is the founding editor of The Englewood Review of Books. He is also author of a number of books, including most recently How the Body of Christ Talks: Recovering the Practice of Conversation in the Church (Brazos Press, 2019). Connect with him online at: C-Christopher-Smith.com


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