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Mary Oliver (1935 – 2019), Pulitzer Prize-winning poet

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Beloved poet wrote about nature

Mary Oliver (1935 – 2019) was a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet beloved for her poems about nature and animal life. Her poems explored the link between nature and the spiritual world. Though most of her work is joyful, she also wrote poems about abuse she suffered during her childhood.

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Died: Thursday January 17, 2019. (Who else died on January 17?)

Details of death: Died at the age of 83 from lymphoma at her home in Florida.


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Her inspiration for her poems: Oliver said she gets inspired by the long walks she took as a child and continued to take as an adult. She told NPR in 2012, "The two things I loved from a very early age were the natural world and dead poets, [who] were my pals when I was a kid."

Her views on poetry: "Poetry, to be understood, must be clear.” “It mustn't be fancy. I have the feeling that a lot of poets writing now, they sort of tap dance through it. I always feel that whatever isn't necessary should not be in the poem." – Interview with NPR

What people said about her: “Thank you, Mary Oliver, for giving somany of us words to live by. "Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" – Hillary Clinton on Twitter

Full obituary: New York Times

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Ntozake Shange (1948 – 2018), pioneering black feminist poet

Walter Skold, founder of the Dead Poets Society of America

Donald Hall (1928 - 2018), former U.S. poet laureate