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Dog Songs by Mary Oliver

Source: Purchased at Novel Books
Hardcover, 144 pages
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Dog Songs by Mary Oliver is a collection of poems about her dogs and her relationship with those dogs, but it also is about the human condition and what our relationships with these animals means to us and to them.  Oliver is known as a dog lover, but she’s also known as a poet that takes the most average moments and things in life and enlarges their scope and their meaning through her poems.  While in this collection that are moments of this extrapolation — such as when Percy gazes up into her face as if she were a full moon in “The Sweetness of Dogs” or when Sammy consistently breaks free of his ropes to roam through town in “Ropes” — many more of these poems are simply homages to the dogs she has known and loved.

While this collection is not as deep as some of her other collections may be, there are moments of pure joy, deep sadness at the dog’s passing, and hilarity when dogs are being just that — dogs.  People who love dogs, and even just love animals, will enjoy these poems, nodding their heads about the truthful honesty in Oliver’s lines.  We and our dogs lean on and learn from one another, and these poems clearly illustrate those moments shared with our canine friends.  Although it is not the same many readers will expect from Oliver, readers will find some of the same universality that is found in her other poems.  In many ways, these poems are even more of the heart, more about the poet and her life, opening her up to the emotions she may not express publicly as much.

Dog Songs by Mary Oliver becomes a large ode to the symbiotic relationship we have with our dogs, a relationship that tries us and rewards us based upon how willing we are to accept it for what it is.  Beyond the freedom these dogs have to be as they are and to succumb to their own wildness, there is still that deep loyalty to their person — do not dare say owner.  There’s also a little bit of Oliver’s own opinion here, in that dogs off leashes are preferable to those constrained by them because dogs loyal to their owners merely because of the leash could be considered mere property.

About the Poet:

A private person by nature, Mary Oliver has given very few interviews over the years. Instead, she prefers to let her work speak for itself. And speak it has, for the past five decades, to countless readers. The New York Times recently acknowledged Mary Oliver as “far and away, this country’s best-selling poet.” Born in a small town in Ohio, Oliver published her first book of poetry in 1963 at the age of 28; No Voyage and Other Poems, originally printed in the UK by Dent Press, was reissued in the United States in 1965 by Houghton Mifflin. Oliver has since published many works of poetry and prose.  Visit her Website.

Book 1 for the Dive Into Poetry Reading Challenge 2014.

235th Virtual Poetry Circle

Welcome to the 235th Virtual Poetry Circle!

Remember, this is just for fun and is not meant to be stressful.

Keep in mind what Molly Peacock’s book suggested.

Look at a line, a stanza, sentences, and images; describe what you like or don’t like; and offer an opinion. If you missed my review of her book, check it out here.

Also, sign up for the 2014 Dive Into Poetry Reading Challenge because there are several levels of participation for your comfort level.

For more poetry, check out the stops on the 2013 National Poetry Month Blog Tour and the 2012 National Poetry Month Blog Tour.  And think about participating in the 2014 National Poetry Month Blog Tour — signups will begin in March.

Today’s poem is from Mary Oliver’s Dog Songs — Check out the cool illustration from The Penguin Press:

Also, hear her read this poem:

Mary Oliver reads a poem from Dog Songs from The Penguin Press on Vimeo.

What do you think?

Mailbox Monday #245

Mailbox Monday (click the icon to check out the new blog) has gone on tour since Marcia at To Be Continued, formerly The Printed Page passed the torch.  November’s host is I Totally Paused!.

The meme allows bloggers to share what books they receive in the mail or through other means over the past week.

Just be warned that these posts can increase your TBR piles and wish lists.

Here’s what I received:

1.  The Queen of Bad Decisions by Janel Gradowski, which I received from the author for review.

Daisy’s life is sliding downhill at breakneck speed. Leaving her worthless boyfriend lands her back at her parents’ home, sleeping on the couch. After only a few days she is tired and annoyed. Her parents give new meaning to the term “early riser” and she can’t avoid unpleasant encounters with her obnoxious brother. The only escape from the familial torture is at her job in a book store. Mary, her boss finds a solution to the housing dilemma, but Daisy will need to change more than her address labels to make the arrangement work.

2.  Undressing Mr. Darcy by Karen Doornebos for review from the publisher in December.

Thirty-five-year-old American social media master Vanessa Roberts lives her thoroughly modern life with aplomb. So when her elderly Jane Austen–centric aunt needs her to take on the public relations for Julian Chancellor, a very private man from England who’s written a book called My Year as Mr. Darcy, Vanessa agrees. But she’s not “excessively diverted,” as Jane Austen would say.

…Until she sees Julian take his tight breeches off for his Undressing Mr. Darcy show, an educational “striptease” down to his drawers to promote his book and help save his crumbling estate. The public relations expert suddenly realizes things have gotten…personal. But can this old-fashioned man claim her heart without so much as a GPS? It will take three festivals filled with Austen fans, a trip to England, an old frenemy, and a flirtatious pirate re-enactor to find out.

3.  Dog Songs by Mary Oliver, purchased from Novel Books.

Beloved by her readers, special to the poet’s own heart, Mary Oliver’s dog poems offer a special window into her world. Dog Songs collects some of the most cherished poems together with new works, offering a portrait of Oliver’s relationship to the companions that have accompanied her daily walks, warmed her home, and inspired her work. To be illustrated with images of the dogs themselves, the subjects will come to colorful life here.

These are poems of love and laughter, heartbreak and grief. In these pages we visit with old friends, including Oliver’s well-loved Percy, and meet still others. Throughout, the many dogs of Oliver’s life emerge as fellow travelers, but also as guides, spirits capable of opening our eyes to the lessons of the moment and the joys of nature and connection.

4.  NOS4A2 by Joe Hill from Novel Books.

Victoria McQueen has a secret gift for finding things: a misplaced bracelet, a missing photograph, answers to unanswerable questions. On her Raleigh Tuff Burner bike, she makes her way to a rickety covered bridge that, within moments, takes her wherever she needs to go, whether it’s across Massachusetts or across the country.

Charles Talent Manx has a way with children. He likes to take them for rides in his 1938 Rolls-Royce Wraith with the NOS4A2 vanity plate. With his old car, he can slip right out of the everyday world, and onto the hidden roads that transport them to an astonishing – and terrifying – playground of amusements he calls “Christmasland.”

5. Night Film by Marisha Pessl from Novel Books.

On a damp October night, beautiful young Ashley Cordova is found dead in an abandoned warehouse in lower Manhattan. Though her death is ruled a suicide, veteran investigative journalist Scott McGrath suspects otherwise. As he probes the strange circumstances surrounding Ashley’s life and death, McGrath comes face-to-face with the legacy of her father: the legendary, reclusive cult-horror-film director Stanislas Cordova—a man who hasn’t been seen in public for more than thirty years.

For McGrath, another death connected to this seemingly cursed family dynasty seems more than just a coincidence. Though much has been written about Cordova’s dark and unsettling films, very little is known about the man himself.

6.  I’ll Be Seeing You by Suzanne Palmieri-Hayes and Loretta Nyhan from Novel Books.

It’s January 1943 when Rita Vincenzo receives her first letter from Glory Whitehall. Glory is an effervescent young mother, impulsive and free as a bird. Rita is a sensible professor’s wife with a love of gardening and a generous, old soul. Glory comes from New England society; Rita lives in Iowa, trying to make ends meet. They have nothing in common except one powerful bond: the men they love are fighting in a war a world away from home.

Brought together by an unlikely twist of fate, Glory and Rita begin a remarkable correspondence. The friendship forged by their letters allows them to survive the loneliness and uncertainty of waiting on the home front, and gives them the courage to face the battles raging in their very own backyards. Connected across the country by the lifeline of the written word, each woman finds her life profoundly altered by the other’s unwavering support.

7.  The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black from Novel Books.

Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown’s gates, you can never leave.

One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.

8.  A Spider in the Cup by Barbara Cleverly from Novel Books.

At dawn one morning in 1933, an amateur dowsing team digging the banks of the Thames for precious metals unearths the body of a young woman with a priceless gold coin in her mouth and a missing toe. The case falls on Assistant Commissioner of Scotland Yard Joe Sandilands’s turf, but he’s been given another assignment—and a very high-profile one. London is hosting a historic global economic conference to try to solve the global Depression, and political tensions are running very high, as very influential participants are starting to take positions allied with or staunchly against the rapidly militarizing Germany. Sandilands’s job is to protect and keep an eye on the visiting American senator Cornelius Kingstone, right-hand man to President Roosevelt, throughout the conference. When a strange set of coincidences link the river bank body to the senator, Joe realizes his assignment is much bigger than he’d thought, and that Senator Kingstone is caught up in a very dangerous game—one that might cost not just one but thousands of lives.

What did you receive?