Intertwined in art and life: the prose of Mary Oliver and the photographs of Molly Malone Cook Mary Oliver, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for poetry,...more
Intertwined in art and life: the prose of Mary Oliver and the photographs of Molly Malone Cook Mary Oliver, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for poetry, is one of the most celebrated and best-selling poets in America. Molly Malone Cook, who died in 2005, was Oliver’s partner for many years, a pioneer gallery owner and photographer. This book joins Cook’s photographs with Oliver’s prose—a uniquely intimate intertwining of their lives and art. There are famous faces here, among them Lorraine Hansberry, Walker Evans, Norman Mailer, and even, through a restaurant window in Venice, Jean Cocteau. Other artists and dozens of wonderful characters and scenes are also immortalized by Cook’s unfailing eye for telling detail and perfect composition—two strangers playing chess, laundry billowing in a cityscape, a Pueblo Indian with his 1958 Cadillac. Mary 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 unique qualities of her partner’s work, but the very texture of their shared world. 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. Perhaps as important, in Mary Oliver’s moving words, Cook taught the beginner poet “to see, with searching attention, and compassion.” “Her most affecting work [is] not in verse but in prose…remembrances of her relationship with photographer Molly Malone Cook, who died two years ago. Oliver’s half-dozen passages recalling her partner from Our World [are] heartfelt, intimate, loving.” —John Marshall, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 2/5/08 “The photographs Oliver has chosen reflect Cook's intuitive relationship with her subjects (even inanimate objects). The little girl on the stoop in New York City looks directly at the photographer, as does a kindly Robert Motherwell and a fierce, almost intimidating Walker Evans. Even though most of the photographs are dominated by a central person or object, there is a lot to look at in the margins, all part of the story. The stance of her subjects—reading a book, looking through a telescope—is always distinctive, creating the mood of the entire composition. The two photos of Oliver could have been taken only by someone who knew the subject well.” —Susan Salter Reynolds, L. A. Times, 1/6/08 “Cook was evidently an accomplished printer as well as a photographer and the images have been beautifully reproduced…In a photo which Cook took of Jean Cocteau dining in Venice in May 1954—one of her several fine portraits of celebrities—we glimpse the photographer silhouetted in an oval mirror on the wall behind the French poet. Her own face is hidden by her upheld camera but we sense that she controls the composition. In this selection of Cook’s work, so admirable in intention, she herself remains something of a shadow in a mirror. But perhaps, given her honesty of eye, we come to know her best by seeing the world as it once appeared through the discretion of her lens.” —Eric Ormsby, The New York Sun, 12/5/2007 less
This is one of my favorite books. It is a tribute to her partner. Put together after her partner's death, it places words together with photographs taken by her partner. The photographs are wonderful and the words are as well. It would be nice if all of us were treated to such a tribute after our death. But perhaps that is part of the specialness of the book.
I got this book for my birthday and have already read it/looked through it three times in three days. It's that good! Mary Oliver did a wonderful job of documenting her relationship with Molly Malone Cook in a way that was, characteristically, honest and unsentimental and full of the attention and love so evident in all of her writing. Cook's photos are so moving--I notice something new each time...more
I got this book for my birthday and have already read it/looked through it three times in three days. It's that good! Mary Oliver did a wonderful job of documenting her relationship with Molly Malone Cook in a way that was, characteristically, honest and unsentimental and full of the attention and love so evident in all of her writing. Cook's photos are so moving--I notice something new each time I look at one of the photos. hide