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Book Review: Dog Songs by Mary Oliver

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Dog Songs by Mary Oliver
Dog Songs
by Mary Oliver

Patti Hall‘s review

Sep 22, 13
Recommended for: Lovers of dogs, pets, poetry and nature.
Read from September 20 to 22, 2013, read count: 2

I won an ARC (advanced reader copy) of Dog Songs through a Goodreads and publisher book giveaway.

One of my best friends turned me on to Mary Oliver several years ago, and I have been hooked ever since. Mary’s poetry is clear, concise and loving to the small things in this world that many of the rest of us simply overlook. If there is any uncertainty in her writing, it is about something that she notices and then questions. Otherwise, you will find no ambiguity in her words.

About Dog Songs? You are going to love it! Mary’s new book begins with a puppy, of course, and then we learn all the things that she (and most of us) love about dogs. She says that the thing these furry friends have that we humans just don’t, their secret ingredient, if you will, is steadfastness.

There are so many places in this book that I smiled, laughed and teared-up. While Mary shows the many nuances of these animals, she also shines light and love on their connection to our own species. She adds word to word, sentence to sentence, to offer up another poem that shows our bonds; dog to human, bound in pure love.

Mary doesn’t hide reality under the rug either. Dogs aren’t always that cute, they have gross and annoying habits, and they (sadly) have relatively short life-spans. While you read, please notice the way Mary touches her dogs. It is subtle, but do you feel the reverence?

It’s all here, in this little white book. The beautiful pen and ink illustrations by John Burgoyne are as clear and concise as Mary’s words. There’s nothing overly sweet, silly or gushy in her words, yet the dog songs may make you feel that way.

I am surrounded by gushy dog-lovers. Almost every person in my circle is a gushy dog-lover. I am not. I am a plant-animal-bug-tree-sky-water-lover. And not gushy at all. I do hear all of their songs though.

Author: Patti Hall

Writer, daughter, sister, mom, niece, grani, and friend. Works-in-progress; 3 children's books, some poetry and a memoir series, "Souvenirs from My Heart." Pursuits of happiness include gardening, walking the beach, reading, writing, photography, traveling and genealogy. I am a widow (2009), lost my sis in 2012, my aunt and a precious grandson in 2013.

19 thoughts on “Book Review: Dog Songs by Mary Oliver

  1. What a lovely review! Makes me want to get a copy even though I’m more of a cat lover than dog lover 😉 Hope you are well, Patti!

  2. As my pups would say: pawesome book review! I’m thinking of self-publishing Toymakers for the Holidays (unless I get a yes amidst all the rejections from agents). Would you be willing to write a book review for it if I do?

  3. Wonderful, Patti. I love Mary Oliver and I love dogs. I’m buying it and just shared your review on FB. Mary Oliver’s grief poems helped me tremendously as she and I lost our partners close to the same time. I love Naomi Shihab Nye, too, perhaps even more if that’s possible. If you haven’t read “Kindness,” you’re in for a powerful treat of good medicine. Here’s a link to the poem at Writer’s Almanac. http://writersalmanac.publicradio.org/?date=2007%2F07%2F23

    Thank you so much for your lovely review. I’m not getting updates from thewriteplace.com, although I’m sure I subscribed. Will try again.

  4. Mary Oliver is a National Treasure.

  5. Great job! I was hoping I would see this pop up soon after your announcement about winning it. So happy to hear it was as great as expected.

  6. Our dogs sing loudly and often. The Children of the Night sing sweetly indeed. I just wish they wouldn’t form their chorus at 6AM.

    • On Facebook with cousin in Calif having neighbor problems over dogs barking…
      I used, and showed my mom, a trick with a pop can. Drop in a few pennies, tape the top, and shake it. The dogs don’t like it much. Only works if they are close though.

  7. I love Mary Oliver’s poetry. This book sounds wonderful! I want to read a book like that about cats since I’m a gushy and crazy cat lady.

    • Um, Luanne, you ARE a writer, you could write us one:>)
      Thanks for stopping by. I think I’m back now, so I will go see what you have been up to.

      • Hahaha, I don’t know if I’m up that task. Cats are difficult to write about. I do love the Christopher Smart poem “For My Cat Jeoffrey.” Not sure anybody could do one better than that.

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