Hi, fellow poets and aficionados,
For those of you who did not win in my recent GOODREADS GIVEAWAY, I would be very happy if you'd check out my two most recent books of poems:
MISS HAVISHAM IN WINTER, and CAVE-GIRL. (2013), as well as my venerable book THE SEX GIRL (1999).
MISS HAVISHAM IN WINTER
THE SEX GIRL
Poetry is my first love, with the the essay, the novel, and the short story close seconds (I admire the last three equally).
If you like, check out Tamara Sellman's interview with me about my poetry at
THE DANA AWARDS
Every year since 1996 (we're in our 20th year now), I've had the pleasure and privilege of chairing the DANA AWARDS in the NOVEL, SHORT FICTION, and POETRY.
We're NOW ACCEPTING SUBMISSIONS (extended postmark deadline November 30, 2015)
Finally, I love the visual arts and though I don't have much savvy there, I enjoy creating 3-dimensional paper sculptures someone described as 'visual poems' (for examples, see the covers of MISS HAVISHAM IN WINTER and CAVE-GIRL).
For a little about how I got here (which is not where I started out), read a bit from my unpublished essay A HOUSE IN THE SOUTH (below), about the day I left home forever though I didn't know it then. I was born in New York and raised in Michigan, but have lived happily now in North Carolina longer than I've lived anywhere else. Though my sense of the South has definitely evolved (affectionately) since my early days here, I'm still at heart a Yankee from the shores of Lake Michigan. Yet the South provides me daily with rich soil from which to grow and write.
from A HOUSE IN THE SOUTH copyright Mary Elizabeth Parker, 2013
Once upon a time, I, the prodigal daughter who would not go home again but didn't know it, steered my '69 Buick Special south from my home in Michigan. I had not been south, ever. It was, by chance, the day Elvis died and as I dropped below Akron every radio deejay's voice, every gas station attendant's visage, draped itself in black. Since Elvis was at best sinister royalty (left-handed) where I hailed from, I could not understand why everyone seemed pole-axed with grief.
The quality of heat in the South, spreading over all like a big moist toad, was unlike anything I'd known. At a sweltering roadside grocery, when I waded inside to pay for gas, the floor was a-swim in beer from a spilled keg. No patrons remarked this. I stood in line in beer, paid and left--edging out the door past a mute behemoth of a man who was with great concentration squeezing his way in. He was wrapped in a bed sheet only (beige, with a motif of tiny cowboys).
As I twisted tortuously down the Appalachians, if the vistas had not spread before me fecund and gorgeous, giving me hope of good things, I would have swung north and gone home. For 22 hours I drove. I fell wild in the dark down the mountains, blinded by the stuttering, flaring lights of construction zones--squeezed between concrete barriers then shot free to fall again--hurtling like a pinball. For a maddening 2 hours near the end, I circled back and back again around some knot in the road with a white wooden sign: LEVEL CROSS.
I didn't know I'd entered the Richard Petty demesne. I didn't even know there was a kingdom called NASCAR (an ignorance of which I was, within days, disabused). But I did feel like the only one alive in a place where all humans were enchanted or dead. At 11 p.m. I saw not one structure with a light on.
Somehow, I got my Buick pointed straight. Just before dawn, my headlamps hit the 'welcome' sign for my destination: a venerable college town in North Carolina. Instead of screaming with joy and relief, I burst into tears (not of joy). I was in mourning, too, for my own world lost behind me. I did not want to be here. But here I was.
I did not, at that point in my life, research a foreign country before entering it. So to hie me down the map I'd had only my weird shining vision of The South: a vast Agraria, a boundless cornfield (my Northern brain had no cognitive set for cotton or tobacco) stretching green and sibilant to the Texas Gulf. A tall, white wooden tower rose from this cornfield: my brain's literal translation of ivory tower, the bastion of intellect I was approaching--properly phallic, yes, animus. The vegetable heat of the corn was anima, I guess--what I'd need for coddling my brood of words as I finessed a master's degree in writing. Ringing this entire symbolic South, in my mind, was a lackadaisical dirt path around the fat fertile enterprise within. What engendered this vision, I don't know...
A MORE FORMAL BIOGRAPHY
MARY ELIZABETH PARKER is creator and chair of the Dana Awards in the Novel, Short Fiction, Poetry and the Essay. Her own poetry collections include The Sex Girl (Urthona Press), Miss Havisham in Winter (FutureCycle Press), Cave-Girl (Finishing Line Press), Breathing in a Foreign Country (Paradise Press), and That Stumbling Ritual (Coraddi Publications). Her poems have appeared in Notre Dame Review, Gettysburg Review, New Letters, Arts & Letters, Confrontation, Margie, Passages North, and Greensboro Review (nominated for a Pushcart Prize). She has been featured poet on Poetry Daily and in Margin: Exploring Modern Magical Realism. Parker also writes prose: Her essay "Combat Boots" was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her short story "Papier-Mache" was published as part of Papier-Mache Press's anthology Grow Old Along with Me, the Best Is Yet to Be, whose audio version was one of only five books-on-tape nominated for a national Grammy Award that year.