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Books :: Mary Oliver

Book Review Excerpt from LA Times Books by Susan Salter Reynolds, January 6, 2008:

Our World by Mary Oliver
The photographs of the late Molly Malone Cook, with a text by her partner, poet Mary Oliver
Published by Beacon Books
ISBN: 978-080706880-9
Pages: 96

Used to be, if you telephoned the poet Mary Oliver, her partner Molly Cook would invariably answer. She’d ask you to hold on a moment, feign footsteps and return to the phone as Oliver, making no pretense at a different voice (editors across the country routinely played along). Cook was, for many years, Oliver’s agent. Oliver, everyone understood, was a bit of a recluse. She needed nature and solitude to create her poems. “Writers must . . . take care of the sensibility that houses the possibility of poems,” she wrote in “A Poetry Handbook.” Cook, who died in 2005 of lung cancer, at 80, was the sociable one.

These days the phone goes pretty much unanswered. “From the complications of loving you,” Oliver wrote in “A Pretty Song,” “I think there is no end or return. / No answer, no coming out of it. / Which is the only way to love, isn’t it?”

Molly Malone Cook was a photographer, but she was far more comfortable promoting the work of others (Edward Steichen, Berenice Abbott, Minor White, Harry Callahan and Ansel Adams, to name a few) in her Provincetown gallery than with the idea of making her own work public. Cook wouldn’t put her photographs into a book, no matter how often people, including Oliver, asked. After she died, Oliver decided to do it. She went through thousands of negatives, many never printed, and boxes and boxes of photographs…[read the rest]

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