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Upstream: Selected Essays
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One of O, The Oprah Magazine’s Ten Best Books of the Year 
The New York Times bestselling collection of essays from beloved poet, Mary Oliver
.
“There's hardly a page in my copy of Upstream that isn't folded down or underlined and scribbled on, so charged is Oliver's language . . .” —Maureen Corrigan, NPR’s Fresh Air
“Uniting essays from Oliver’s previous books and elsewhere, this gem of a collection offers a compelling synthesis of the poet’s thoughts on the natural, spiritual and artistic worlds . . .” —The New York Times

 
“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 revered 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 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.

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Street Date:
10/11/2016
Language:
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ISBN:
9780698405622
ASIN:
B01CDVCAUQ

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APA Citation (style guide)

Mary Oliver. (2016). Upstream: Selected Essays. Penguin Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Mary Oliver. 2016. Upstream: Selected Essays. Penguin Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Mary Oliver, Upstream: Selected Essays. Penguin Publishing Group, 2016.

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Mary Oliver. Upstream: Selected Essays. Penguin Publishing Group, 2016.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2022. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.

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One of O, The Oprah Magazine’s Ten Best Books of the Year 
The New York Times bestselling collection of essays from beloved poet, Mary Oliver
.
“There's hardly a page in my copy of Upstream that isn't folded down or underlined and scribbled on, so charged is Oliver's language . . .” —Maureen Corrigan, NPR’s Fresh Air
“Uniting essays from Oliver’s previous books and elsewhere, this gem of a collection offers a compelling synthesis of the poet’s thoughts on the natural, spiritual and artistic worlds . . .” —The New York Times

 
“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 revered 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 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.
reviews
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        August 1, 2016
        Distinguished, honored, prolific, popular, bestselling—adjectives that don’t always hang out together—describe Oliver’s body of work, nearly three dozen volumes of poetry and collections of prose. This group (19 essays, 16 from previous collections) is a distillation of sorts. Born of two “blessings—the natural world, and the world of writing: literature,” it partakes of the spirits of a journal, a commonplace book, and a meditation. The natural world pictured here is richly various, though Oliver seems most drawn to waterways. All manner of aquatic life—shark and mackerel, duck and egret—accompany her days, along with spiders, foxes, even a bear. Her keen observations come as narrative (following a fox) or as manual (building a house) or as poems masquerading as description (“I have seen bluefish arc and sled across the water, an acre of them, leaping and sliding back under the water, then leaping again, toothy, terrible, lashed by hunger”). When the world of writing enters, currently unfashionable 19th-century writers emerge—Percy Shelley, William Wordsworth, William James—in readings that evade academic textual analyses and share the look-at-what-I-saw tone animating Oliver’s observations of the natural world. The message of her book for its readers is a simple and profound one: open your eyes.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        The Pulitzer Prize-winning poet lovingly reflects on her relationship to nature and the written word.As a child, Ohio native Oliver (Felicity: Poems, 2015, etc.) found her greatest solace in "two...blessings--the natural world and the world of writing." In this collection, she provides readers glimpses into the solitary but rich world she has inhabited as a poet. The first of five untitled sections deals loosely with Oliver's childhood, when she discovered the pleasures of the natural world and poet Walt Whitman, "the brother I did not have." Oliver also discusses "the inner vision" that has guided and driven her as she has moved "upstream" against conventional life currents. In the second section, the poet offers observations on the forests, beaches, and watery places she loves. For her, all living things are interconnected: "not at this moment but soon enough, we are lambs and we are leaves, and we are stars, and the shining, mysterious pond water itself." The third section contains Oliver's musings on three writers--Emerson, Poe, and Wordsworth--who taught her about the writing craft and about living life with intelligence and sensitivity. Her fascination with animals defines the fourth section of the book. Like the bear that "rub[ed] up against the Provincetown Town Hall," they are as much her companions as they are "ambassador[s] of a world that returns now only in poets' dreams." And while she must live in places meant for humans, it is the "temple" of nature to which she endlessly returns. In the final section, Oliver briefly considers Provincetown, which was her home of 50 years. Overfishing and climate change have transformed it into "a town of pleasure," yet one that has for her always been "heaven." Part paean to nature and part meditation on the writing life, this elegant and simply written book is a neo-Romantic celebration of life and the pursuit of art that is sure to enchant Oliver's many admirers. A lyrical, tender essay collection. COPYRIGHT(1) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        Starred review from September 15, 2016

        While most of the essays in this collection have been published previously, they span the last 20 years of this National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning poet's life so that the experience of reading them together is almost like reading a memoir. Rather than a seamless narrative about the major events that have shaped Oliver's life, the book is an extended meditation on the significant discoveries that formed her mind: the quiet woods near her childhood home in rural Ohio, Walt Whitman, Ralph Waldo Emerson, cool solitude. In each essay, Oliver reflects on these influences and reveals how they have made her the keen observer and artist that she is today. Her focus on nature and the concept of seeing calls to mind Annie Dillard's Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. Certainly, Oliver's collection will appeal to Dillard fans and to anyone who enjoys nature writing, but readers who have found Dillard too effusive will find Oliver much more precise and, therefore, much more accessible. VERDICT Highly recommended as an entree to Oliver's works, this volume should also be required reading for artists of all kinds, not just writers, and especially aspiring creative minds.--Meagan Lacy, Guttman Community Coll., CUNY

        Copyright 2016 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        October 15, 2016
        Oliver is a welcoming and revered poet who brings lyrical grace, measure, and motion to her glinting, musing, probing essays, as well as a fluid transcendentalist sensibility. This exquisite collection reaches back 25 years, then moves forward to gather the best of her prose musings, including a new tribute to Provincetown, long her home and now much changed. In the title piece, Oliver remembers a profound childhood journey in which she wandered away from her parents, walking along and in a stream against the current, enthralled by the water, flowers, ferns, and all the other living wonders. She writes, Attention is the beginning of devotion. In My Friend Walt Whitman, she celebrates the making of a life separate from the mainstream, of following a tributary of concentration and creativity, cherishing two blessings: the natural world, and the world of writing. This resplendent and uplifting collection is a paean to the earth and to the writers and thinkers who taught Oliver to observe with passion, to think with patience, to live always caringly. Just as she teaches us.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2016, American Library Association.)

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        September 1, 2016
        The Pulitzer Prize-winning poet lovingly reflects on her relationship to nature and the written word.As a child, Ohio native Oliver (Felicity: Poems, 2015, etc.) found her greatest solace in "two...blessings--the natural world and the world of writing." In this collection, she provides readers glimpses into the solitary but rich world she has inhabited as a poet. The first of five untitled sections deals loosely with Oliver's childhood, when she discovered the pleasures of the natural world and poet Walt Whitman, "the brother I did not have." Oliver also discusses "the inner vision" that has guided and driven her as she has moved "upstream" against conventional life currents. In the second section, the poet offers observations on the forests, beaches, and watery places she loves. For her, all living things are interconnected: "not at this moment but soon enough, we are lambs and we are leaves, and we are stars, and the shining, mysterious pond water itself." The third section contains Oliver's musings on three writers--Emerson, Poe, and Wordsworth--who taught her about the writing craft and about living life with intelligence and sensitivity. Her fascination with animals defines the fourth section of the book. Like the bear that "rub[ed] up against the Provincetown Town Hall," they are as much her companions as they are "ambassador[s] of a world that returns now only in poets' dreams." And while she must live in places meant for humans, it is the "temple" of nature to which she endlessly returns. In the final section, Oliver briefly considers Provincetown, which was her home of 50 years. Overfishing and climate change have transformed it into "a town of pleasure," yet one that has for her always been "heaven." Part paean to nature and part meditation on the writing life, this elegant and simply written book is a neo-Romantic celebration of life and the pursuit of art that is sure to enchant Oliver's many admirers. A lyrical, tender essay collection.

        COPYRIGHT(2016) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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One of O, The Oprah Magazine’s Ten Best Books of the Year 
The New York Times bestselling collection of essays from beloved poet, Mary Oliver
.
“There's hardly a page in my copy of Upstream that isn't folded down or underlined and scribbled on, so charged is Oliver's language . . .” —Maureen Corrigan, NPR’s Fresh Air
“Uniting essays from Oliver’s previous books and elsewhere, this gem of a collection offers a compelling synthesis of the poet’s thoughts on the natural, spiritual and artistic worlds . . .” —The New York Times

 
“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...
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