The popular poetry and prose writer Mary Oliver—known for her meditations on the natural and spiritual world—passed away on Thursday. Widely read in introductory English classes, but sometimes shunned by “fancy critics,” Oliver won a Pulitzer Prize in 1984 for her fifth collection of poetry, American Primitive, and the National Book Award in 1992 for her New and Selected Poems.
Her work, often sparked by long walks in the woods, was influenced by the transcendental writing of Whitman and Thoreau—or as described in today’s show, she was a “lesbian Robert Frost.” Joining Jonathan in the studio this morning to talk about Oliver’s legacy are two Madison-based poets, Rita Mae Reese and Andrea Potos.
Andrea Potos is a poet whose work has has appeared in a wide variety of journals and anthologies, including the Women’s Review of Books and The Sun. She’s the author of eight poetry collections, most recently A Stone to Carry Home (Salmon Poetry, Ireland) and Arrows of Light (Iris Press). A new collection entitled Mothershell is forthcoming from Kelsay Books.
Rita Mae Reese is a poet, fiction writer, and marketing director at Headmistress Press, an independent publisher of chapbooks and full-length collections by lesbian poets. Her newest poetry collection, entitled The Book of Hulga (2016), won the Felix Pollak Prize in Poetry from the University of Wisconsin Press. —cp