I met the poet Mary Oiiver several years ago, at the College of St. Elizabeth, my undergraduate institution. In honor of a revered English professor, Sister Alice Lubin, I gave a substantial gift to bring poets and writers to campus. Sister Alice was still alive then; she got to meet and interact with many, including Oliver. A priority was not just the public reading, which brought many local people to the College, but a master class for students. Oliver excelled in both.
Oliver had a longtime partner, Mary Malone Cook, and wrote a poem about their relationship and the capacity for surprise, even in someone we know well. I used that poem in a talk I gave about Jerry’s death, saying that one thread of loss of a beloved spouse or partner is the loss of the capacity to be newly surprised. My audience found it an interesting point.
Oliver died on January 17 at the age of 83. Her death is a loss.