Lesbian Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Mary Oliver has passed away from lymphoma at the age of 83.
Bill Reichblum, Oliver’s literary executor, announced she died on Thursday 17 January at her home in Hobe Sound, Florida.
The American poet was known for her odes to nature and animal life. In 1984, she won the Pulitzer for her poetry collection American Primitive.
In 2007, The New York Times praised her as ‘far and away, this country’s best-selling poet’.
Queer poet Walt Whitman was among her inspirations
Author of more than 15 poetry and essay collections, Oliver wrote short pieces and essays on her love of the outdoors and disdain for greed, despoilment, and other human crimes.
She often said queer poet Walt Whitman was ‘the brother she never had’. Oliver dedicated one of her last essays, My Friend Walt Whitman, to the American poet. The essay was published in 2016.
She spent 40 years with the same woman
In the late 1950s, the poet met photographer Molly Malone Cook, who would become her partner for over 40 years. Cook died on 26 August 2005.
Mortality was among Oliver’s recurring themes. In Circles, she wrote about being ‘content’ not to live forever, having been ‘filled’ by what she saw and believed.