Mary Oliver Honored with Dianne Ackerman

Friday, November 16, 2018 - 18:00
Chapel of the Concord Academy, 166 Main Street, Concord
Mary Oliver (left) and Diane Ackerman credit: Dorothy Alexander

Join at the Thoreau Society in Celebrating the Work of Pulitzer-Prize winning poet Mary Oliver as she receives, in absentia, the 2019 Henry David Thoreau Prize for Literary Excellence in Nature Writing. Book signing to follow.

Accepting on behalf of Mary Oliver will be Diane Ackerman, best-selling poet, novelist, and non-fiction writer, recipient of the 2015 Henry David Thoreau Prize and a Pulitzer Prize finalist.  Ms. Ackerman will speak about her own work as a nature writer before discussing Mary Oliver’s splendid work and reading from her poetry.  This event is at 6 pm, Friday, November 16, 2018 at the Chapel of the Concord Academy, 166 Main Street, Concord.

*The Thoreau Prize was established in 2010 to honor the best American nature writers in poetry, fiction, and non-fiction prose. Previous winners include Gretel Ehrlich, E. O. Wilson, Gary Snyder, T. C. Boyle, Peter Matthiessen, Diane Ackerman, Linda Hogan, Sy Montgomery, and Bernd Heinrich.

Tentative schedule:
1. Thoreau Society and Thoreau Farm Welcome
2. Dale Peterson, founder of the Thoreau Prize, comments on Mary Oliver winning the 2019 Thoreau Prize and explains her absence. He talks briefly about her poetry and reads her acceptance speech.
3. Alexis Rizutto (of the Thoreau Prize Committee) introduces Diane Ackerman as a previous Thoreau Prize winner and the featured speaker accepting the prize for Mary Oliver.
4. Diane Ackerman speaks about her own practice as a nature writer--how it began, what it means, why it continues. She moves from that personal material to consider more generally nature writing. What is it? Why does one do it? How? She then describes Mary Oliver as a poet of the natural world and comments on the quality of her poetry and how it has affected or inspired her.

She then reads her favorite Mary Oliver poems:

  • "Wild Geese"
  • "Every Morning"
  • "The Summer Day"
  • "Blossom"
  • "Sleeping in the Forest"

5. Brief Q and A from audience if appropriate

6. Mary Cerulli (of the Thoreau Prize Committee) describes the background and logic of the Prize and hands a check and gift to Diane Ackerman, who accepts it on behalf of Mary Oliver.

This event is co-sponsored by the Thoreau Society and Thoreau Farm.