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Mary Mullen

ISBN: 978-1-907056-41-3

Page Count: 68

Publication Date: Saturday, May 15, 2010

Cover Artwork: Imagine-Scape II by Aoife Casby.

About this Book

Mary Mullen's poems of home and displacement, Ireland and Alaska, ache with longing and loss. Her language is pure and rich, and she has a wry eye for the arresting detail. These are poems that delight in the exotic and the ordinary - there are beluga whale pods and sculpted Burren brambles - but mostly they are the poems of a searching heart. If we can claim her, Ireland has found another magical woman poet. 
Nuala Ní Chonchúir

Mary Mullen's work is clear and unsentimental.  Her poems about growing up in Alaska and her later time in Ireland with her daughter, Lily, are vibrantly alive.  The sensibility they reveal contains a rare combination of wonder and generosity that is truly uplifting to read. 
Michael Gorman

There are forms of intimacy that are best released by the truth of poetry.  There are forms of intimacy that are revealed in their human possibility by the experience, the proximity to, the care drawn forth, by those one loves with special needs.  All of these possibilities of what is human are delivered in a space that has been made richer by a developed sensibility. In these poems the human project is realized with a particular talent for what must not be missed in nature and the particular features of the space that serves as context for what is human.  This is a fine collection delivered in a range of poetic styles.  Most important of all the poems affirm the power and truth of poetry and life-fine poems that make rich testament to a committed life. 
Michael D. Higgins

Author Biography

Mary Mullen's poems and non-fiction work have been published in The Stinging Fly, Cranng, West47online, The Cùirt Annual, Landing Places: An Anthology of Irish Immigrant Poets, The Cork Literary Review, We Alaskans, The Irish Times, Peninsula Clarion, Anchorage Daily News and RTÉ Radio's Sunday Miscellany.  She was awarded an MA in Writing from the National University of Ireland, Galway, in 2006.  A savant of memoir, she taught memoir writing at Galway Arts Centre, and now tutors writers privately.  Mary was born in Anchorage, and raised on her parent's homestead in Soldotna, Alaska.  She moved to Ballinderreen, Co. Galway, Ireland in 1996, where she still lives with her daughter Lily, a sparkly Galway girl who was born with Down syndrome.

Read a sample from this book

August Lament

In Alaska, fireweed bloom,   
salmon cook in the canner, 
aspen trees shimmer in a zephyr
and jewelled broccoli grows tender
in sweet pea filled air.

Peggy grates cabbage into coleslaw, boils new potatoes
and welcomes nights long enough to sleep-if you want to.
The equinox tilts the sun lower through the kitchen window.

Friends land with raspberry cordial.
My old mother shoos a sauntering moose
away from the garden with a tea towel.
Conversations dance, forks clatter
and the location of a new berry patch might slip-

Across the Atlantic, rain and longing wake me.

Legendary Note Left on Car at Annaghmakerrig

    For Enda Coyle-Greene and Maureen Boyle

    Please move your car to the car park.  The poets need to see
    the fucking lake.
            Bernard Loughlin

It's two o'clock.  I stare at the lake.
Eight horses, one wearing a lavender
blanket, sleep in the sun.
Downstairs, artists eat curried lentils.
Flaming pink azaleas wave at me
across the newly mowed grass.
Trees by the lake hunker down,
wait for a warmer day to bud.
David tinkles the ivories,
Conor writes a snog-free novel,
Abbie fetches pigs, Selma paints.
The Seward ladies dance.
And somewhere in Lourdes, a brave girl
lights a candle for her lake-staring mother.

Copyright © Mary Mullen 2010


Interview: Mary Mullen interviewed by Nuala Ní Chonchúir on the Women Rule Writer blog. Read the interview here>>

Review: by Kevin Higgins, The Galway Advertiser, Thursday 2nd September 2010

MARY MULLEN was born in Anchorage, Alaska but has lived in Ballinderreen, Co Galway, for more than a decade. She has read her work at the Cúirt Over The Edge showcase and is a graduate of the MA in writing at NUIG.

I was familiar with Mary's poetry before I opened her new collection  Zephyr (Salmon Poetry) and began to read. Her poems are full of everyday things. Her native Alaska features in the fine coming of age poem Alaskan Summer Rite, 1969'. There is a heartfelt poem about the birth of her daughter, Lily was born with Down Syndrome and who came into this world a few hours after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.

The witty 'Lilyisms, 2006' is proof that poetry is not usually to be found up there in the clouds, where some go in search of it, but down here in the things people actually say: "We took a walk on the Green Road,/below us in a field I saw black cows./They looked like peppers waiting to be chopped."

In 'Lemon' Mullen shows she is capable of a bit of poetic savagery when necessary: "We sped along in smothering rain; I talked of his wife.//As predicted, he whispered, "Can I ride you sometime?"/DON'T TALK TO ME LIKE THAT.//Insult crept over me like crude oil in salt water./His wife was happy to see him."

Zephyr is smartly produced with a striking cover image by Aoife Casby.

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