OCEAN STATE POET --- GIVING VOICE
Mary Ann Mayer
Mary Ann (Maitland) Mayer is a native of Lincoln, RI and the author of three poetry collections. Kissing the Shuttle – A Lyric History (Blackstone River Books, 2018) explores the nexus between textile mills, tuberculosis, and the early public health movement— described by the Historian Laureate of RI as “a blend of both triumph and tragedy.” Her other titles are Salt & Altitudes (Finishing Line Press, 2014) and Telephone Man.
Mary Ann’s poems, essays, and translations appear widely, most recently in anthologies published by Frequency Writers, Ocean State Poets, and the William Joiner Institute for the Study of War and Social Consequences. Also in the Providence Journal; Salamander (Suffolk Univ.), Off The Coast, Smoky Quartz and others. She is honored to have her co-translation of Leonard Nathan’s poem “From The Mountain” forthcoming in a German literary journal, WendePunkt.T – and installed in the Alpinarium museum in Galtuer, Austria –a memorial to thirty-eight who perished in an avalanche.
Mary Ann is inspired by poetry’s breadth, whether as vehicle to reenact historical events, or to playfully inhabit traditions (she’s especially fond of the pastoral and its illusions of idyll.) Feeling poetry is an act of finding, she finds most of her poems in moments when a link between the outer landscape and inner creates a spark. On poetry as play, and play as beauty—please visit her Umbrella Journal essay “Poem as Play, Poet as Player” http://www.umbrellajournal.com/winter2007/poetry/MaryAnnMayer-2.html
Mary Ann has been nominated for a Massachusetts Book Award, received Boston’s GrubStreet “Blue Period” prize, and a Massachusetts Cultural Council Artists Grant. She has been a finalist with Tupelo Press and for The May Sarton New Hampshire Book Award. A retired occupational therapist, since 2016 she has served as an editor for Crosswinds Poetry journal, and member of the Ocean State Poets since 2013.
Sun glinting off a wooden loom.
The clanking of chains,
the clack of the flying shuttle
through the shed,
the warp and weft,
the in and out,
the whir and throstle
of looms and spinners
from first to last slant light,
across the fifteen-hour day.
The cleaning, combing, carding of cotton,
the spinning of thread,
the rustle of cloth,
the mill girl, her tongue
rolled tight against her upper lip
to keep out sweat-salt, cotton lint,
a fleck in the corner
of her mouth.
Her neck is wet and aches
as she arches,
stretches her body across
the wooden frame
to weight the loom,
to tension the threads,
she strokes the warp
combed to a sheen
as if riding a horse,
as if one with the beast,
across an uncrossable field.
Old Friend In The Mezzanine
In the new bookshop
serving periodicals in different languages and coffee,
my love, I watched you.
You stood on the landing of the spiral stair
pressing a point.
Your hair broke in predictable places,
caught the light and
in waves and jags,
sending your scent
through the forest of pulp,
to fell me where I stood,
on the ground floor of the new bookshop
that suddenly no longer smelled of paint.
Ocean State Poets--Rhode Island