Many people love Mary Oliver for her beautiful poetry and wisdom. If you know her work, did you know she loves dogs? Not a surprise, right? This book of dog poems was a gift from our dear friends The Schnoodles, Cookie & Zippie. In some of these poems, Oliver speaks directly to her dog(s). They have a conversation. It's great to read these reflections, because sometimes it can feel like a dog's mind is beyond the scope of human perception.
A few years ago, at a poetry reading, several poets made fun of Oliver's work--and the audience laughed. Perhaps Oliver's sincerity is suspect to some. It shouldn't be. (Or maybe there is some poetic issue about her work that I don't understand.) Oliver knows the natural world and records it beautifully. I'm not sure that Dog Songs is up to the level of her most beloved work, but it is a special read, especially for dog lovers (like me).
If you are a writer, her poetry handbooks are incredibly useful. I love Rules for the Dance: A Handbook for Writing and Reading Metrical Verse, but A Poetry Handbook: A Prose Guide to Understanding and Writing Poetry is useful for craft suggestions and prompts.
You can listen to Mary Oliver read a poem from Dog Songs here.
There is also a marvelous interview with Krista Tippett over at one of my favorite radio shows, On Being. (& a picture of Oliver with one of her doggies!)