Quirky Books: Dream Work by Mary Oliver

Friday, August 20, 2010

Dream Work by Mary Oliver

Aptly titled "Dream Work" by Mary Oliver, the book showcases powerful imagery with nuance of a dream. A variety of dreams, nightmares and prose emanate from the page. Frequently wondering if she was a field reporter her life was spent as a writer and poet; therefore, poems related to current events are inspired.

Born in 1935 an interesting part of her poetry is an underlying struggle with gender. Several of the poems take a lurid turn with feminine imagery or sexuality. Older people of this time often mention how acceptance of the body was unacceptable and oppressed. Frequently, these lines of intimacy are spiteful, rarely appearing as a raw statement or appreciable aspect.

Some of the poems are completely absent of this aspect, creating a full perspective not weighed down with what appears to be sexual expression, such as: "Dogfish," "Morning Poem" and "Poem." I especially enjoy "Poem." It is an open expression of joy toward communication, metaphorically saying writing poetry is natural.

Other poems, such as; "Milkweed" and "Black Snakes" posses underlying themes regarding the culture she grow up in. Considering the dreamlike quality it is difficult to determine if Oliver is doing this purposely, or it is background to greater prose.

The book is interesting and written for adults. Often mistaken as Holocaust poems or a reference to Ann Frank, she dedicates a poem to Robert Schumann who was born in 1810. The story is tragic as he insisted on being placed in an asylum; however, trying to make these stories connect is impossible.

This is a great book for women and men. Oliver probes deeply into her psyche. At times stumbles across hidden thoughts, while creating long, intricate passages. Parents should read the book before sharing it with teens.

Poetry Breakdown
Milkweed by Mary Oliver