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Posts Tagged ‘Mary Oliver’

Notes from a Bookshop: March, or Waiting for Redbird

March 15, 2013 | by

Picture 16

“The sky was darker than the water
it was the color of mutton-fat jade.”
—Elizabeth Bishop, “The End of March”

On more Saturday afternoons than not this month, I’ve watched swirls of snow blow past the blue door of our bookshop. The parking lots in town have small mountains of mud-encrusted snow piled in their corners, monuments to the length of this winter. At home, the firewood is running low, our freezer is nearly empty of the lamb we split with our neighbors back in the fall, and the local farmer’s market offerings have dwindled down to the last rutabagas from the root cellars. This has been a long winter, and everyone who comes into the bookshop looks a bit tired, drawn, impatient for spring and the promises that come with it.

My favorite customer came in three weeks ago with his pregnant wife, her hair and eyes glowing, everything about her bursting with her own impending spring. Her husband is my favorite customer because he is my good luck charm—on the bookshop’s first Saturday he walked in and poked around until he found our poetry section. He gaped, not believing our little cache of modern poets. He revealed he was also a poet, had written his graduate thesis on Franz Wright. He’d grown up in town and I thought the presence of a local poet on one of our first days open was an auspicious sign. Read More »

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The Vatican is Not a Fan of J.K. Rowling’s Adult Oeuvre, and Other News

November 6, 2012 | by

  • The Vatican pans J.K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy. Or at any rate, the Holy See’s official paper does.
  • “I read Rumi, the thirteenth-century Persian poet, every day.” Mary Oliver on her inspirations.
  • Enid Blyton’s “Famous Five” series is being revived for television.
  • Help bookstores post-Sandy.
  • And the most-read book in the world is ... not a shocker.
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    Small, Good Things

    September 13, 2012 | by

    One of Mary Oliver’s poems begins “Something has happened / to the bread / and the wine.” A most unusual mystery, the comestibles have not gone the way of the plums in William Carlos William’s “This Is Just to Say.”

    Oliver’s wine and bread, as she explains in the second stanza, “have been blessed.” These two central elements of the Christian faith have been lifted from their ordinariness, isolated in order to show the extraordinariness of even the most ordinary of things. The bread and the wine join water and words to become what believers call sacraments: Eucharist is a sacrament made from staple food and festive drink; baptism is a sacrament made of clean, clear water.

    One way of understanding the sacraments, perhaps best articulated by liturgist Gordon Lathrop, is that simple things become central things. When Christians refer to the bath and the table, they refer not only to the specific sacraments of bathing and eating, but they point also to the sacramental character of every bath and every table. The setting apart of one table and one bath shows forth the splendor of all tables and all baths.

    That setting apart is the calling of Christians but also the vocation of the writer. Read More »

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