Spring 2019: A Tribute to Mary Oliver

When the poet Mary Oliver died on January 17, 2019, there were a few inspiring days during which many people’s news feeds were lit up with friends quoting her poems and paying tribute to this poet who had inspired so many to take the time to notice the world around them with quiet generosity. To continue that connection, Anawim Arts invited poets to contribute original poems that reflected the themes found in Oliver’s work. Those poems are published here in our first Anawim Arts Journal.

Mary Oliver’s poems speak directly to the intersection of art and spirituality, as reflected in her poem below.

Whistling Swans

Do you bow your head when you pray or do you look
up into that blue space?
Take your choice, prayers fly from all directions.
And don’t worry about what language you use,
God no doubt understands them all.
Even when the swans are flying north and making
such a ruckus of noise, God is surely listening
and understanding.
Rumi said, There is no proof of the soul.
But isn’t the return of spring and how it
springs up in our hearts a pretty good hint?
Yes, I know, God’s silence never breaks, but is
that really a problem?
There are thousands of voices, after all.
And furthermore, don’t you imagine (I just suggest it)
that the swans know as much as we do about
the whole business?
So listen to them and watch them, singing as they fly.
Take from it what you can.

from Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver