Review of M. Oliver’s “Upstream: Selected Essays”

Mary Oliver Headshot

Poet Mary Oliver delivered a beautifully woven collection of essays in her last publication entitled Upstream. The topics of these short pieces range in multiple themes, but are equally explorative. Although each essay could stand alone, Oliver takes us on a journey, looking at the world through her eyes. This collection is equally exciting as it is meditative,  gifting us with her natural but keen observation of her environmental surroundings. 

Each essay is deeply rooted in specific places, which Mary explains she was able to lose herself in from a young age; the ocean, the lake, the dwelling, the creative mind, and the escape to nature again. 

She also explores writers’ lives: Hemingway, Poe, Whitman, Shelly, Wordsworth, and Frost, the writers she grew up with and makes assessments of the writing habits and lives behind these names, sparking a conversation on how we approach our past literature while inspiring a new generation of writers.

Before Oliver left us, she gave us this last gift (together with her many poems). Upstream is a unique window into a creative mind. In it, she gives us beautiful commentary and imagery on nature and explores the artistic mind’s toils and importance. Puzzling over how the mind interrupts itself, she writes: 

oliver_book_cover

Oliver, M. (2019). “Upstream: Selected Essays Penguin Book

Cover Image Credit: Mariana Cook/Penguin Press

We can see why it has an uplifting take on life and is a testament to how successful minds are dedicated and connected to the natural world

This five-section book was awarded one of Oprah’s “The O Magazine’s top ten books of the year”. We can see why it has an uplifting take on life and is a testament to how successful minds are dedicated and connected to the natural world.

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