Half Wild (Magill's Literary Annual 2007)
Mary Rose O’Reilley, well loved by teachers of writing for books such as The Peaceable Classroom (1993) and Radical Presence: Teaching as Contemplative Practice (1998), published her memoir The Love of Impermanent Things simultaneously with her first book of poetry, Half Wild. Together, the books offer a testament to a life spent nonviolently in an often violent world and insight into one of the most gifted voices in American poetry today. Half Wild was the 2005 winner of the Walt Whitman Award, sponsored by the Academy of American Poets and given to the winner of an open competition of American poets who have not yet published a book of poems.
Poet Mary Oliver served as judge for the 2005 competition and wrote in her citation that O’Reilley’s is “a style that celebrates life and dignifies sorrow; that includes the drifter; the Japanese print; deer in the woods; herons in the wetland grass; a lost child recovered but, it could be, forever half wild; and especially, for it is a continuing presence in this book, that mystery we call the soul.” Oliver’s praise is well earned; the poems of Half Wild take the reader on a journey to places where the soul resides, to dark corners where violence intrudes, and to bright spaces where there is a glimpse of grace.
Half Wild is a book of doubles: The first poem is called “Twin,” and there are several paired poems such as “The...
(The entire section is 1560 words.)
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