Mary Oliver, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award, is one of the most celebrated poets in America. Her partner Molly Malone Cook, who died in 2005, was a photographer and pioneer gallery owner. Intertwining Oliver’s prose with Cook’s photographs, Our World is an intimate testament to their life together. The poet’s moving text captures not only the unique qualities of her partner’s work, but the very texture of their shared world.
About Our World
Mary Oliver, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for poetry, is one of the most celebrated poets in America. Molly Malone Cook, who died in 2005, was Oliver’s partner for many years, a pioneer gallery owner and photographer. Our World weaves forty-nine of Cook’s photographs and selections from her journals with Oliver’s extended writings, both reminiscence and reflection, in prose and in poetry. The result is an intimate revelation of their lives and art.
Within the art world, Molly Malone Cook made her reputation as an early advocate of photography as an art form; she was a champion of the work of now-famous photographers, including Edward Steichen, Eugene Atget, Berenice Abbott, Minor White, Ansel Adams, Harry Callahan, and W. Eugene Smith. There are famous faces here as well, captured by Cook’s camera, among them Walker Evans, Robert Motherwell and Henry Geldzahler, the first curator of twentieth-century art at the Metropolitan Museum.
Cook and Oliver also lived among writers, and Cook caught several on film, including Lorraine Hansberry and Norman Mailer. Other artists and dozens of wonderful characters and scenes are also immortalized by Cook’s unfailing eye for telling detail and composition. Oliver writes of Cook’s work, the people they knew, and the places they visited or lived. The poet’s beautiful text captures not only the vivifying qualities of her partner’s work, but the texture of their shared world. In Mary Oliver’s words, Cook taught the beginner poet “to see, with searching attention and compassion.”
Readers who savor Oliver’s exquisite gifts of attentiveness, her lean lines, her celebration of the holiness of what is, will delight in her gifts applied to the being she loved longest. And anyone who sees the best of Cook’s photographs here will celebrate a remarkable eye. —Brian Doyle, Christian Century
“Oliver interweaves entries from Cook’s journal with her own prose-and-poetry text, revealing a richly textured life, a shared world that included prominent writers and artists.” —Patricia A. Kossmann, America