Mary Oliver

A winner of both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, Mary Oliver's poetry has been set by American composers such as Lori Laitman, Jake Heggie, James Primosch, and Augusta Reed Thomas.

Photo: Mary Oliver, 1964, Photo by Molly Malone Cook, from Our World (Beacon Press, 2007)

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    Mary Oliver was born in 1935 in Ohio and went on to attend Ohio State University and Vassar College, although she did not ultimately receive a degree from either institution. In her early adulthood she lived in the home of fellow poet Edna Vincent St. Millay as a secretary for her sister Norma Millay. She went on to teach and was named the Catharine Osgood Foster Chair for Distinguished Teaching at Bennington College. She spent the majority of her life living with her partner Molly Malone Cook in Provincetown, Massachusetts, the surroundings of which inspired much of her poetry. 

    Throughout her lifetime she received countless awards and honors including a Guggenheim Fellowship, the National Endowment for the Arts, the American Academy of Arts & Letters Award, and honorary doctorates from The Art Institute of Boston, Dartmouth College and Tufts University.

    Oliver was an incredibly private person and while not much is known biographically about her life, the essence of her as a person can be easily understood by reading through the endless volumes of her work. Through her poetry, she allowed the outside world a peek at the inner workings of her mind.


    Megan Maloney

    Related Information



    Sheet Music

    Early Snow

    Composer(s): Lori Laitman

    Song(s): 1. Last Night the Rain Spoke to Me
    2. Blue Iris
    3. Early Snow

    Buy via Classical Vocal Reprints


    Composer(s): Lori Laitman

    Song(s): 1. The Sunflowers
    2. Dreams
    3. Sunrise

    Buy via Classical Vocal Reprints

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