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Likely Stories - Devotions

My name is Heather White. When I am not managing my household and caring for my young children, I teach art and art history classes here in Waco. Today I am recommending the book “Devotions” by Mary Oliver

Mary Oliver is an American Poet who won both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. Devotions is a collection of more than two hundred poems, selected and arranged by the poet herself. Oliver has included poems from all stages of her impressive and influential fifty-year career, spanning from nineteen sixty-three to two thousand fifteen.

I would recommend this poetry collection to poetry lovers, obviously, but also to those who want to read poetry and don’t know where to start. I would also recommend this book to people who love to hike and talk walks, to garden, or birdwatch, people who love animals, and people who enjoy meditating.

Mary Olivers poems are lovely, accessible, comforting reflections on the natural world. I pick up my copy of Devotions every few months to revisit favorites and explore less read sections of the book. Oliver’s poems remind me to step outside, look, listen, and reflect on my place in the natural world.

As my friends and family can attest, if you are nearby when I am reading Mary Oliver’s Devotions, I will likely interrupt whatever you are doing and make you listen as I read Mary Oliver poems aloud. In fact, while I have your attention here on the radio, let me read you the second poem of more than two hundred included in Devotions.

This Morning, By Mary Oliver

This morning the redbirds’ eggs have hatched and already the chicks are chirping for food.

They don’t know where it’s coming from, they just keep shouting, “More! More!”

As to anything else, they haven’t had a single thought.

Their eyes - haven’t yet opened, they know nothing about the sky that’s waiting. Or the thousands, the millions of trees.

They don’t even know they have wings.

And just like that, like a simple neighborhood event, a miracle is taking place.

This poem always makes me think of my babies, crying for more, of their potential, and of everything they have to look forward to and explore in their lives. Mary Olivers poems speak to me, every time I pick up this book, I find poignant connections to whatever stage of life I am in.

I hope you too will enjoy Mary Oliver’s poems, if you are buying Devotions, I recommend purchasing the hardcover, I predict, you too, will be returning to this collection again and again.

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Heather White grew up in Waco, left after high school, and returned in 2019 to teach Art History classes at Baylor. Before lecturing at BU, she worked as a museum educator at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, and taught for local organizations in DFW, Houston, and OKC. She lives in Woodway with her husband and three kiddos.