Mary Oliver: Poetic Inspirations © Barbara R Dove

Mary Oliver: Poetic Inspirations

Barbara R Dove

Alexandria, Virginia, USA

Artist Statement

Pictorial art quilts are exciting because of the creative freedom and opportunities afforded during the process. Some of my quilts are contemporary, some are impressionistic landscapes, and still others are spiritual in nature, depending on the subject and how I choose to interpret it. I enjoy selecting the fabric and designing the initial idea with paper and pencil, although the idea may change as the process unfolds. Currently, I do not use a computer or templates to figure it out ahead of time.

I selected the poet Mary Oliver as I am inspired by the imagery of her poetry and her mindful message to slow down and truly experience life through nature. I read many books of her poetry, considered the different themes, pondered the essence of her poetry, and finally decided to make a quilt about what inspired her many poems – the woods and pond near her home in New England. This quilt represents my imagined interpretation of that place.

Taking it a step further, I selected one of her most famous poems with a profound message to depict in the scene, called The Summer Day. This poem appeared in volume one of New and Selected Poems, for which she won the National Book Award in 1992. I also added my own twist on the meaning of her message through the use of fabric color, whereby the warm foreground colors represent her visual clarity and love of life, while the foggy background connotes an individual’s uncertain but hopefully uplifting future, upon heeding her words.

Woman’s Groundbreaking Accomplishment

The best selling poet in recent times, Mary Oliver has received numerous awards and honors, including the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1984 and the National Book Award in 1992.


machine applique, machine quilting, trapunto


cotton fabrics including batiks, 12 – 100 weight threads, cotton batting and polyester batting for the trapunto