Mary Oliver Biography

Biography (Poets and Poetry in America)

Mary Oliver’s poetry bears witness to a difficult childhood, one in which she was particularly at odds with her father, a teacher who died without their being reconciled. Her childhood experience profoundly influenced her poetry, as the body of her work develops a journey of healing from the effects of trauma. In “Rage,” she writes of a childhood incest scene, detailing its damaging and continuing effects on daily adult life. Her poetry is remarkable for its limited focus on herself as a personality while showing a path out of terror and sorrow to acceptance, safety, joy, and freedom.

Oliver attended Ohio State University for one year, then transferred to Vassar College, but left after a year. She has taught at several institutions: the Fine Arts Workshop in Provincetown, Massachusetts; Case Western Reserve as Mather Visiting Professor; Sweet Briar College in Virginia as Banister Writer-in-Residence; and Bennington College in Vermont as Catherine Osgood Foster Chair for Distinguished Teaching (1996-2001).

Mary Oliver Biography (Poetry for Students)

Mary Oliver was born September 10, 1935, in Maple Heights, Ohio, to Helen and Edward Oliver (a teacher). Oliver has described herself as a...

(The entire section is 295 words.)

Mary Oliver Biography (Poetry for Students)

Mary Oliver was born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1935. Her father was a teacher and her mother a stay-athome mom. Oliver knew early on that she...

(The entire section is 476 words.)