Born in Pampa, Texas, Mary Rose O’Reilley was educated in the parochial school system of Roseville and St. Paul, Minnesota. She graduated from the College of St. Catherine and completed graduate work at the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee.
She was awarded the 2005 Walt Whitman Award for her first book-length collection of poems, Half Wild, which will be published in the spring of 2006 by Louisiana State University Press. The winning manuscript was chosen by Mary Oliver.
O'Reilley's awards include a Contemplative Studies Grant from the American Council of Learned Societies, a Bush Artist Grant, and the McKnight Award of Distinction. She is the author of the non-fiction books The love of impermanent things: a threshold ecology (Milkweed Editions, 2006); and The Barn at the End of the World (2000).
Since 1978 she has taught English and environmental studies at St. Thomas College. She lives in St. Paul, Minnesota.