2018 Student Research Conference:
31st Annual Student Research Conference

An Examination of Mary Oliver’s Poetry through a Biographical Lens

Katie Alexander
Dr. Priscilla Riggle, Faculty Mentor

Despite winning the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for her book of poems American Primitive, American author Mary Oliver has not received the full acclaim she deserves, as critic Ruth Baker recently noted, “perhaps because she writes about old-fashioned subjects—nature, beauty, and, worst of all, God.” Oliver’s poetic power stems from her unique sense of self, which resonates from her earliest poems in the 1960s through her most recent published works. This presentation will utilize a biographical lens to demonstrate that while the distinctly introspective quality of Oliver’s writing has been consistent, her thematic focus has shifted through the decades. Connecting Oliver’s writing to events of her life will give readers a deeper understanding of her poetry, and will also offer critical insights into the broader question of how life events can shape a writer’s work.


Keywords: Poetry, Biography, Mary Oliver


Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 102-4
Location: MG 1090
Time: 8:45

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