Mary Oliver was the featured keynote speaker at Seattle University’s fourth annual Book Festival on Saturday.
Like most authentic human beings, she was humble, direct, quietly confident in her work – and a bit humorous. She read the favorites: The Journey, Wild Geese. And she read about her beloved Percy, her dog. She read without great drama, her crisp writing style needed no contrived flair.
But the Q/A after her poetry offered equal insight into the writer: When asked what her wisdom is for living a full life, she simply quoted herself: “Pay attention, be astonished and tell about it.”
While noting she has never been depressed - “I know it (depression) is real and exists, but I get up every day ready to get at it,” - she says two things have saved her life: spending hours in the woods as a child and writing. She spent so much time with the two activities overlapping: she stored pencils in the trees. Pay attention, be astonished, tell about it…