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Upstream
Upstream: Selected Essays | Mary Oliver
140 posts | 65 read | 9 reading | 148 to read
In the beginning I was so young and such a stranger to myself I hardly existed. I had to go out into the world and see it and hear it and react to it, before I knew at all who I was, what I was, what I wanted to be. So begins Upstream, a collection of essays in which beloved poet Mary Oliver reflects on her willingness, as a young child and as an adult, to lose herself within the beauty and mysteries of both the natural world and the world of literature. Emphasizing the significance of her childhood friend Walt Whitman, through whose work she first understood that a poem is a temple, a place to enter, and in which to feel, and who encouraged her to vanish into the world of her writing, Oliver meditates on the forces that allowed her to create a life for herself out of work and love. As she writes, I could not be a poet without the natural world. Someone else could. But not me. For me the door to the woods is the door to the temple. Upstream, a radiant collection of essays with a new piece on Provincetown, follows Oliver as she contemplates the pleasure of artistic labor, her boundless curiosity for the flora and fauna that surround her, and the responsibility she has inherited from Shelley, Wordsworth, Emerson, Poe, and Frost, the great thinkers and writers of the past, to live thoughtfully, intelligently, and to observe with passion. Throughout this collection, Oliver positions not just herself upstream but us as well as she encourages us all to keep moving, to lose ourselves in the awe of the unknown, and to give power and time to the creative and whimsical urges that live within us. From the Hardcover edition.
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jen_the_scribe
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My first book haul of 2020, a late Christmas gift from my sister. I'm excited for these 😁

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Mitch
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Oh my goodness what a lovely parcel to come home to. Thank you wonderful @wanderinglynn The socks are amazing! Thick and soft and luscious and will be on my feet on Christmas Eve! I‘ve wanted to read this book for ages - a new to me author. Stoked! 😘😘😘😘

catiewithac Those socks!!! 😍 1mo
LeahBergen I love those socks! 1mo
wanderinglynn So glad it arrived! ❤️🎄💚 And I hope you enjoy the book. I love Mary Oliver. (And I ended up having to order myself a pair of those socks too! 😉) 1mo
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Mitch @LeahBergen @catiewithac They‘re so wonderfully soft and warm... they‘re going to be a winter fav 🎅 1mo
squirrelbrain They look lovely! 🧦 🧦 (edited) 1mo
Blaire How nice! I love out of print‘s stuff. 1mo
umbrellagirl I *need* those socks. 1mo
Suet624 All wonderful items! 1mo
Cathythoughts Beautiful gift ❤️❤️❤️ 1mo
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haileybean
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The worst stung heart. After my worst reading year to date: I‘m ready to dive back in to stories and heal my worst-stung heart. #maryoliver #upstream #readingishealing

Cathythoughts I love this 👍🏻❤️Thankyou for sharing 1mo
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wanderinglynn
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Pickpick

I forgot to post Upstream, which I have been savoring, choosing essays, not in order, but as each speaks to me. 5🌟

My favorite, if one can have a favorite Oliver (because they‘re all amazing), is Sister Turtle. #TIL

“Teilhard de Chardonnay was not talking about how to escape anguish, but about how to live with it.”

#nfNov 9pts post/160 total

lahousewyfe Oh! One of my favorites. I read it for the first time this year. 2mo
Clwojick 9 pt 2mo
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wanderinglynn
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My pre-order arrived! 🎉

marleed Oh fun. I pre ordered Postscript on Amazon. I received it about the time it was released in UK. Interestingly, my copy is written in European spellings. IE, s Vice z in words like realize. And I‘ve not seen it physically at B&N so I‘m a bit confused. 3mo
kspenmoll Such a wonderful book❤️ 3mo
wanderinglynn @marleed That‘s is interesting. 3mo
wanderinglynn @kspenmoll I‘m looking forward to reading it. 3mo
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kyraleseberg
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Pickpick

Mary Oliver's first language is nature and she writes about it---and her relationship with it---with unabashed awe. The world needs more of this.

"Something is wrong, I know it, if I don't keep my attention on eternity. May I be the tiniest nail in the house of the universe, tiny but useful."

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Bry
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I had to pause and re-read this a few times before turning the page. 😍

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Lkardos12
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How👏🏼does👏🏼Mary👏🏼Oliver👏🏼do👏🏼it👏🏼every👏🏼time?

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Book_Gobbler
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So we begin. ♥️

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lahousewyfe
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Pickpick

This book was a true pleasure to read! Simply a pile of wonderful lyricism which transported me into the extraordinary ordinary of our existance. Mary Oliver makes me want to get back out into the woods and become a trancendetalist! She's added Emerson and Whitman to my reading list. Truly an essayist and poet to be savored. Again, I'm sad that no more will be coming from her, but happy my journey within her work has just begun!

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lahousewyfe
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"How could they possibly be strangers?" Too true, Mary Oliver. You are my friend, even though we never met. #poetrymatters

DivineDiana I love this! ❤️ 10mo
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lahousewyfe
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After a night filled with the wind blowing, this morning delivers the promise of a warm spring day.

I'm reading Upstream, a collection of essays by Mary Oliver. In it she says, "Attention is the beginning of devotion."

Time to attend to this sun. Definitely a walk with Ty today.

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HardcoverHearts
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Fingers crossed, I may have broken the chains of the reading slump! I devoured The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford and jumped to this book. It‘s just wonderful. So I‘m sitting in a cafe near the UC Berkeley campus, with jazz in the background, delicious warm food and a soul nourishing book. This weekend is looking up! How‘s your weekend reading going?

readordierachel Sounds like a lovely way to spend an afternoon! 11mo
wordzie 😎 11mo
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kspenmoll
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readordierachel 💔💕 12mo
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RowReads1
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readordierachel 💔 12mo
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lauralovesbooks1
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Pickpick

Something beautiful happens when poets turn their craft to prose. These essays are exquisite. The level of detail in her writing makes it seem like you are looking through her eyes. These essays focus both on nature and on writing/authors.

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Maria514626
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👍👊👏❤️
#25by2019

tammysue Love this ❤️ 13mo
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Maria514626
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My last book of the 2018 Mrs. Darcy reading challenge. Not sure if I‘ll get through it today. Not a tear-through book.

There‘s a winter storm warning so I have an unexpected day to read to my heart‘s content. Not great for drivers—including my brother & his family. They‘re having a Planes, Trains & Automobiles experience returning from FL. Needed to get off the road so crashed at my house. Arrived at 12:30am. 🤭 🤞🤞For safe travels home today!

readordierachel Sending good thoughts! 13mo
Maria514626 Thanks so much! @readordierachel You are a dear! 13mo
Tamra Too bad they don‘t have John Candy with them. 😢 13mo
Maria514626 @Tamra Yes! He was a treasure! At least they haven‘t had to ride in a refrigerated truck. Yet. 😄 13mo
Tamra @Maria514626 😂 true! It‘s an annual movie for us. 13mo
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Maria514626
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My oh my. She has an amazing way with words and ideas. The text demands to be savored but my normal is to tear through or devour.

This will be interesting and glorious if I allow myself the time to take it all in! 🧘‍♀️

kspenmoll Love her poetry. ❤️ 13mo
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jveezer
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“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

VioletBramble I love this line. In the Juniper Books catalog they show a custom order set of book jackets with this quote on part of the book spines. 1y
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PlantyLibrarian
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“-to observe with passion, to think with patience, to live always caringly.”

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PlantyLibrarian
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SW-T
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“You must not ever stop being whimsical.

And you must not, ever, give anyone else the responsibility for your life.”

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SW-T
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Pickpick

Mary Oliver‘s writing reminds me of why I love to read. Lovely, lyrical gem of a book. #booklove #allthefeels

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fleeting
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Pickpick

Oliver writes with such graciousness the rescue of a bird in all its "shattered elegance," caring for it, knowing it was headed towards its inevitable demise. How many times have we seen the end in front of us, yet still allowing ourselves to become attached wholeheartedly, bracing for the impact? Only one who has lived a full life with such depth and inner clarity can speak of nature with such kindness, such pure light.

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Pageturner.Cliffhanger
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Pickpick

A book to read with a highlighter.

Mary Oliver‘s sentences have been refined and polished to high gloss - each rich in thought and image. This gives Upstream a heartiness, despite being a slender volume.

For me the two exceptional essays were Swoon and Bird. The first, a riveting account of a stairwell spider, and the second a joyous adoption of an injured seabird.

#maryoliver #upstream #poetry #essays #penguinpress #penguinrandomhouse

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Becker
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I was not in the right head space to enjoy this. I envy everyone who loved it so much. Maybe I‘ll try again some day

Pageturner.Cliffhanger I just finished it and agree that a reader has to be in the right frame of mind.Skip ahead to section four and the essays Swoon and Bird. Both are exceptional, but Bird is really something. 2y
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annahenke
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Pickpick

I don‘t even like nature that much, but this book made me love it - or at least, the idea of it. The writing is exquisite. Throw in some literary references, thoughtful reflection, a huge number of highlighted passages, and I don‘t think there‘s anything else I need to say. I can give it no higher praise. #naturewriting #essays

vlwelser I love this author. Normally she writes poetry. I'm adding this. ☺ 2y
GatheringBooks Read this book in January last year and read her Devotions early this year - it‘s becoming a tradition for me to begin the year with Mary Oliver. :) 2y
Pageturner.Cliffhanger I thought the essays Swoon and Bird from section four were outstanding. 2y
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annahenke
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brendanmleonard Love her! 2y
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StephanieY
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Pickpick

You should read this outdoors. Bonus points if you're on the beach. I particularly enjoyed the essays where Oliver meditates on nature's small details.

Pageturner.Cliffhanger I especially enjoyed the essays Swoon and Bird: the spider and seagull adoption essays. Outstanding. 2y
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annahenke
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kerry
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I'm over on Shelf Awareness today talking about the essays I plan to re-read this winter during my "hibernation" reading phase: http://www.shelf-awareness.com/readers-issue.html?issue=668#m...

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Shaunesay
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They say write what you know, but we do often write what we want.

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Shaunesay
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I was interested in Mary Oliver's poetry and found this also available at my library while I was waiting for my hold to come in on her latest. I love nature and find it soothing so I thought I'd give this a try.

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merelybookish
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More nonfiction. Gorgeous essays on nature and literature and the well-lived life. (Optimus was hanging around. Wanted to be in the pic. 🤖)
I've managed three hours of reading...maybe. 🤷
#readathon

Lacythebookworm I ❤️Mary Oliver! 2y
merelybookish @Lacythebookworm this is my first time reading her essays. They are wonderful! Like I may need to buy a copy of this book. 🙂 2y
Lacythebookworm You probably do! 😉 2y
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vivastory I would love to hear Optimus Prime read poetry 😂 2y
merelybookish @vivastory somehow I suspect Bumblebee is the poetry lover. 🤣 2y
vivastory True, Optimus strikes me as more of a military history & political biography reader 2y
readinginthedark I love this Transformers discussion! 😂❤️ 2y
Cathythoughts Beautiful Mary Oliver 👍 2y
merelybookish @Cathythoughts Yes, she's wonderful! 2y
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DeeLew
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"The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time."

Wow, I just grabbed this book off my nightstand and this line jumped out at me. Right when I was thinking that I wish I could write but I have no time to develop my skills. Perhaps it was a sign.. ?

TricksyTails This really speaks to me ♥️ 2y
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monalyisha
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Mehso-so

I moved through this collection at a pace Oliver would approve of: slow, meandering... but it was a wasted opportunity because I didn't do it intentionally, so I'd have time to notice the details. I simply got distracted by other, shinier books. Though I love the authors she focuses on (Emerson, Whitman, Poe), I got bogged down in that section. Her writing is lovely, eloquent, & wise - as always - but I prefer her poetry.

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monalyisha
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"Once [at the dump, I found] a bag of old Christmas cards swept from the house of a man who had died only a month or so earlier, in almost every one of them a dollar bill."

???

Nat_Reads 😭 2y
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monalyisha
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"The farthest star and the mud at our feet are a family; and there is no decency or sense in honoring one thing, or a few things, and then closing the list... I could not be a poet without the natural world. Someone else could. But not me. For me the door to the woods is the door to the temple."

Nat_Reads You're making me want to re-read this one!! 2y
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monalyisha
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"The light touches every blade of frozen grass...the still-upright weeds have become wands, encased in a temporary shirt of ice & light."

I may need to keep this essay, "Wordsworth's Mountain," close for the duration of Winter. It's my least favorite season. I get, err...let's call it "grumpy" (read: "beastly"). I'll need to recall that "Beauty has its purposes, which, all our lives & at every season, it is our opportunity, & our joy, to divine."

Laalaleighh I get “refuse to go outside where the air hurts my face” level grumpy 2y
xicanti I've gotta look this up, because winter's also my least favourite season. 2y
monalyisha @xicanti I'm sure when Winter hits, it'll just feel like a cruel joke -- but anything's worth a shot! Even if that thing will make me want to tell Mary Oliver to shut up (which is the last thing that I, in my sane any-other-season mind, would ever want!). (edited) 2y
kspenmoll Yuk, winter. I‘m with you! 2y
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monalyisha
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"[Whitman's "Leaves of Grass"] offers a way to live, in the religious sense, that is intelligent and emotive and rich, and dependent only on the individual -- no politics, no liturgy, no downpayment. Just attention, sympathy, empathy." ?

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Bibliogeekery
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Enjoying a little Mary Oliver on the porch of the treehouse! 🌲🏠📚😍

8leagueboot This book rejuvenates my soul. 2y
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susanw
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Just some of the back to university necessities for my daughter. She has discovered a love of poetry, so who am I to discourage that.

LauraBeth Good job, mama! You did good 👏👏👏👏 2y
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Craftylikefox
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I needed a break from the spooky. I am by myself tonight and feeling a bit spooked. I thought this might be a nice change from the spooky read.

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HeatherBookNerd
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This passage stuck with me.

Joyfulmimi Wow! I love this! 3y
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perfectlywinged
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Camping reading

Nat_Reads Great choice!! 3y
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kathedron
Pickpick

I enjoyed this collection of essays largely focused on literary and nature themes, as I expected from Mary Oliver. If I didn't out-and-out love it as much as I thought I would that's not so much a reflection on the book itself as on the fact that her poetry sets the bar so high.

MayJasper Do you mean the poetry is difficult to understand? 3y
kathedron @MayJasper Far from it: she's one of the more accessible poets on my shelves. I meant only that I'm so fond of her poetry that for me to expect her prose to please me just as much is asking a lot. 3y
MayJasper Thanks @River_Voice for explaining. I'm trying to get in to poetry maybe I will give her a go ☺ 3y
kathedron @MayJasper That's music to my ears! Poetry has been my "thing" since I was a kid. ? 3y
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Dwan
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Pickpick

"But literature, the best of it, does not aim to be literature. It wants and strives, beyond that artifact part of itself, to be a true part of the composite human record -- that is, not words but a reality."

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HeatherBookNerd
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Ran across this today and really loved it.

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HeatherBookNerd
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Truth.