How Books Saved Mary Oliver’s Life

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Feeling anxious about today’s election? Brain Pickings gives us a look at how writer Mary Oliver copes when times are tough:

The second world—the world of literature—offered me, besides the pleasures of form, the sustentation of empathy (the first step of what Keats called negative capability) and I ran for it. I relaxed in it. I stood willingly and gladly in the characters of everything—other people, trees, clouds. And this is what I learned: that the world’s otherness is antidote to confusion, that standing within this otherness—the beauty and the mystery of the world, out in the fields or deep inside books—can re-dignify the worst-stung heart.


David lives in central Ohio and works for a sports newspaper. He is a regular contributor to Nervous Breakdown and Andrei Codrescu's Exquisite Corpse. More from this author →