Library, Poet Laureate to Launch Mary Oliver Memorial Event in National Poetry Month

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The extensive papers of Mary Oliver, one of America’s most acclaimed and widely read poets, are now part of the Library of Congress due to the generosity of Bill and Amalie Reichblum. The Reichblums, who are the executors of Oliver’s estate and members of the Library’s James Madison Council, have also created the Mary Oliver Memorial Event Fund for Emerging Poets.

The fund establishes a new annual memorial event at the Library, honoring Oliver’s generosity as an artist who mentored young poets. The Reichblums gifted the Mary Oliver Papers manuscript collection to the Library in December 2023.

On April 4, U.S. Poet Laureate Ada Limón will return to the Library of Congress to kick off the inaugural Mary Oliver Memorial Event as well as celebrate the launch of Limón’s signature project, “You Are Here.”

“Amalie and I are so delighted that Mary Oliver’s archives will now be in the care of the Library of Congress and reside alongside her touchstones Walt Whitman, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and so many other writers and artists who have defined the possibilities of the American imagination,” said Bill Reichblum. “Mary Oliver’s commitment to her work was matched by her willingness to help emerging poets throughout her life. The Fund continues Mary Oliver’s remarkable legacy.”

The April 4 event will feature Limón with Molly McCully Brown, Jake Skeets, Analicia Sotelo and Paul Tran — emerging poets featured in Limón’s new anthology, “You Are Here: Poetry in the Natural World.” A small advance sampling of received Mary Oliver Papers collection materials will be shown in a display prior to the event.

Part of the Library’s Live! at the Library series, the event will take place in the Coolidge Auditorium at 7 p.m. ET. Register for free tickets here.

The new Mary Oliver Papers collection at the Library of Congress is rich with primary documentation, including correspondence, writings, notebooks, interviews and other materials related to Oliver’s personal life and her long career as a poet, essayist, critic and teacher. Many of the personal photos, letters to publishers and friends and poetry and prose writings reflect Oliver’s devoted love of the sea, woods, flora and fauna, her dogs and her introspective meditations on the natural world.

The full collection is currently being archivally processed and will become available to researchers through the Manuscript Division later this year.

Mary Oliver (1935-2019) was the recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for “American Primitive” in 1984 and of the National Book Award for “New and Selected Poems” in 1992. She began writing poetry as a teenager and published her first book of poems, “No Voyage, and Other Poems,” when she was 28. It was followed by a succession of bestselling poetry and essay collections published across her lifetime and beloved by an international readership. Oliver was committed to environmental sustainability. She found inspiration for her work and her spirituality in the poetry and meditations upon nature of Emerson, Whitman, Shelley, Keats, Millay and Rumi, and through her frequent forays into woodlands and along the seashore of Cape Cod.

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