Upstream: Selected Essays - Mary Oliver

Staff Pick

“I would say that there exist a thousand breakable links between each of us and everything else, and that our dignity and our chances are one,” so writes Mary Oliver in an essay on the hope that lies within winter’s darkness.  It is a sentiment expressed everywhere in Mary Oliver’s deceptively simple poetry.  And so too in her deceptively simple prose, as is clear in her collection of essays, Upstream.  In meditations on the natural world and on the everyday sensibilities contained within daily life, she notes those breakable links as well as the underlying bonds of oneness. Oliver explores this further in critical essays on writers who serve as her forerunners—Emerson, Whitman, Wordsworth—and in an essay on Poe whose pessimism might seem to stand opposite the affirmation that defines her work.  But in his work she sees the same transcendental linkages between life and death, despair and hope, the same striving to overcome the artifice of writing by grasping the real.  She continues in the passage quoted above:

“The farthest star and the mud at our feet are family; and there is no decency or sense in honoring one thing, or a few things, and then closing the list.  The pine tree, the leopard, the Platte River, and ourselves -- we are at risk together, or we are on our way to a sustainable world together.  We are each other’s destiny.”

Upstream: Selected Essays By Mary Oliver Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9781594206702
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Penguin Press - October 11th, 2016

The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks about Race - Jesmyn Ward

Staff Pick

Following in the footsteps of James Baldwin and his collection of essays, The Fire Next Time, Jesmyn Ward has gathered the work of today’s leading black writers for The Fire this Time (Scribner, $25). Featuring Claudia Rankine, Edwidge Danticat, Isabel Wilkerson, and many others, this collection makes an important contribution to the current discussion of race relations in America. Ranging from essays on Rachel Dolezal and the murals instructing New Yorkers what to do if they witness police brutality, to poetry and the legacy of Baldwin and his contemporaries, this forum reminds readers that the black community continues to experience the same bias it did when Baldwin was living and working. These pages are full of history, cultural criticism, and vivid first-hand accounts of what it means to be a part of the black community. Readers familiar with The Fire Next Time will find that its namesake does not copy nor repeat Baldwin’s original work, but draws from that powerful writer and expands on his thought in new ways. This quickly became one of my favorite books of the year. The power of hearing multiple black voices in one collection makes The Fire This Time well worth reading and a great holiday gift.

The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks about Race By Jesmyn Ward Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9781501126345
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Scribner - August 2nd, 2016

The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks about Race By Jesmyn Ward Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781501126352
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Scribner - June 20th, 2017

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