National Book Awards Acceptance Speeches

Mary Oliver, Winner of the 1992 POETRY AWARD for NEW & SELECTED POEMS

It's been a very long day. I certainly want to thank The National Book Award Foundation and the judges. We were told to make up a little speech, just a minute long, and I have lots of people to thank; I want to do this right. Okay, so far, I thank the right people. I want to thank Neil Baldwin and The National Book Award Foundation, and the sponsors, and the judges. I want to thank Beacon Press.

Poetry happens because of life, and poetry happens because of language and poetry happens because of other poets, and so, very properly, I want to thank the other nominees, as well. I want to thank the audience. I want to thank the Democrats. I want to say also, this book represents 27 years or more of work, and during this time, there has been one person in my life who really has helped to make it happen. She is the best first reader anybody could ever have, and she is the light of my life, and I'd like to thank her publicly, Molly Malone Cook, who's here with me tonight. Thank you, thank you very much.