Friday, May 07, 2010

Oliver Reading Wednesday Night

Wednesday evening I drove to Lawerence, Kansas after work to hear Mary Oliver read at the Leid Center for Preforming Arts. I suppose my only dissapointment of the evening was that I was unable to use the camera on my new Blackberry as it was announced that Ms Oliver had requested no photos be taken. Therefore, I cannot take credit for the photo at the left.

Leid Hall is a marvalous venue for arts. Modern, accustically sound, physically comfortable in seating. I have no idea for certain what the attendence was but it was easily 400 or more.

This was my first live contact with Mary Oliver and I came away with a few thoughts about who she is and how that informs her work.  She appears to me not at all a very complex person. She did not impress me as someone who carries the real her inside a fake facide but rather is transparent.  I think you pretty much get the genuine Mary Oliver right away.
I would describe her in these words:
  • humble
  • peaceful
  • spiritual though not perhaps not religiously traditional
  • a naturalist
  • accessible (a word that causes me to cringe)
  • private
Much of what Mary Oliver read to us was captivating in that she either prefaced each poem with a related story or the poem itself would tell a story. Not necessaraly with some deep moral or philosophical meaning, as was with the case of the poems she read about her dog Percy, but there were others in which the poems would raise questions... not necessarly answered.  So her poetry  tended to be bathed in subtle humor or invite questions... on or the other.

There was at the center of this reading, a person at profound peace with herself. So much so that I could not help but feel the presence of peace. I enjoyed the reading atmosphere which was quite different from what I normally attend. I picked up a copy of her book Thurst.  There were newer ones that looked especially interesting but this book had some poems that I felt my wife might enjoy as well. There is always hope. ;)

After I've finished it I will review it here.
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