[Poetry Friday] Excerpts from Mary Oliver’s American Primitive

poetry friday

Myra here.

I am happy to join the Poetry Friday community this week hosted by our blogging friend Catherine Johnson. Do check her round-up for more links from poetry-loving friends.

This week I am not sharing anything in connection to our current reading theme on food and Asian titles. I have been getting to know more of Mary Oliver’s poetry especially during our short family vacation a few weeks back. I brought poetry with me to the beach, quite apt don’t you think?



As per usual, I took a photo of the page and edited it using an iPhone app.

Here’s another one:


This last one is from Poppies. I love the contrast between the cold and loss and light and happiness – and the choice one makes to find radiance and to be washed by a “river of earthly delight.”

Which one caught your eye, dear friends?

*** Video ads other readers may find at the bottom of this post are NOT endorsed by GatheringBooks but are randomly included by WordPress to maintain their site. ***

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

15 comments on “[Poetry Friday] Excerpts from Mary Oliver’s American Primitive

  1. Catherine Johnson

    Ooh I love ‘my hands would begin to sing’ what a great line. I really like the combination of poetry with your pictures. Thanks, Myra.


  2. Pingback: Poetry Friday is here! | Catherine Johnson

  3. What a fun blog post you created for Poetry Friday. Thank you for sharing!


  4. I like the first poem. “If I could touch you / My hands would sing.” I think that line is beautiful.If he were near her, she would feel estatic, so happy. She would regain an enthusiasm for life.

    So glad to find Poetry Friday. Thank you for posting both poems. I happen to have American Primitive by Mary Oliver.:)


  5. maryleehahn

    Perfect beach reading! I agree that happiness is a kind of holiness.


  6. margaretsmn

    Mary Oliver is my favorite. Her profound words alongside beautiful images inspires me. I’d love to be writing poetry on the beach.


  7. Enjoyed the excerpts and the photos. “Poppies” is one of my favorites — and there are many when it comes to Mary Oliver!


  8. Oh, what fun, Myra – you found a way to share poetry AND your holiday! This is one of my favorite Oliver volumes, too.


  9. I love the lines:
    “If you were here / if I could touch you / my hands would begin to sing.”

    Thank you for bringing poetry, your holiday at the beach, and Mary Oliver’s poetry together in a perfect trio.


  10. haitiruth

    I love “Light is an invitation to happiness.” So true!


  11. Julie Larios

    Oh, it’s that second poem that really gets to me – the idea of being “washed and washed / in the river / of earthly delight” – it’s the second “washed” there that s just PERFECT – she knows how to bring the poem home and make us feel washed, too. That, to my mind, is what Oliver is best at – taking us right to where she is and making us hear, feel, taste, touch, see it (Which is actually what you’ve done this week, too, Myra, via those photos – thanks!)


  12. I second Julie’s comment — Oliver is a genius that way. I like the defiant sound of “what can you do about it — deep, blue night?” Love the photo of you with the book!


  13. Yes to all of the above comments. Thank you, Myra, for looking up from your GORGEOUS surroundings long enough to share your exquisite reflections & graphics with us. Mary Oliver is certainly one of our favorite poets around the Poetry Friday neighborhood!


  14. “And what are you going to do – what can you do about it – deep blue night?” I love this line. And the photo!


  15. Give me Mary Oliver in one hand a drink with one of those little umbrellas in the other and I’m all set. I’m on vacation this month as well (fitting in PF when I can), but alas, it’s not the same without “velvet waters.” Thanks for sharing, Myra!


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