A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to see Mary Oliver receive an honorary degree from Marquette University. I think it’s taken me weeks to write about it because I still can’t wrap my head around it. It was so cool.
What? Those words aren’t poetic enough for you? Well, I get that. It’s just that this was so far beyond anything I can even describe. You know how you might have a list of things that would be cool if they happened, but then there are other things that you can’t even imagine happening, so you don’t even hope for them? It was kinda like that.
I enjoyed the whole event really. The pomp and circumstance of the honorary degree was exactly the right amount. When she stood there and said, “I’m going to read for about 50 minutes” I felt myself brushing away a tear of joy. It was like heaven to me.
She read the “The Journey,” which I have taped to my computer and read daily. My tears of joy let loose at the sound of her voice. She read from her book, A Thousand Mornings. She read poetry that will be in an upcoming book! New poetry!
I really enjoyed the Q&A that followed. It’s always nice when a poet or writer you’ve admired turns out to have a good head on their shoulders, and is even more inspiring in person. She was really lovely. Funny. Smart. Cool.
She signed books after that, and I had the opportunity to tell her that hearing her read was truly a thrill, and I wished her many blessings. I’m notoriously tongue-tied and often say stupid things when I’ve met a writer I liked. It’s like writing about them here. What’s to say? Except: I am so happy you put your words out here for us to read.