Penn State

Gretchen A. Kuldau - associate professor of plant pathology, Penn State University Park

Book Title: New and Selected Poems: Volume One

Author: Mary Oliver

Book Description:

My career in biology began focused on plants but I quickly became fascinated with fungi despite a lack of formal training. Part of my fascination arose from the apparent mystery of macro fungi such as mushrooms. I could walk over the same paths and lawns for months or even years and then one day a fungus that had likely been there all along appeared and often disappeared as quickly as it had come. This mystery was one of the reasons I redirected my efforts from plants to fungi. The subject of Mary Oliver’s poems is often the natural world. Her poems are evocative of the mystery and wonder of life. The poem Mushrooms in this volume captures some the early impressions I had of fungi that led me to pursue their study. Other poems by Mary Oliver, including several in this book, gave me courage during difficult times in my post-doctoral years and inspire me even now. Oliver’s works continue to remind me why I wanted to be a biologist, so that I could engage with the living part of the natural world and teach others about it.

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