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About this poet

Mary Jo Bang was born on October 22, 1946, in Waynesville, Missouri, and grew up in Ferguson, which is now a suburb of St. Louis. She received a BA and an MA in sociology from Northwestern University, a BA in photography from the Polytechnic of Central London, and an MFA in creative writing from Columbia University.

Bang is the author of several books of poems, including A Doll for Throwing (Graywolf Press, 2017), The Last Two Seconds (Graywolf Press, 2015), The Bride of E: Poems (Graywolf Press, 2009), and Elegy (Graywolf Press, 2007), which won the 2007 National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry and was a 2008 New York Times Notable Book. Her books Louise in Love (Grove Press, 2001) and Elegy both received the Poetry Society of America's Alice Fay di Castagnola Award for a manuscript-in-progress. Her first book, Apology for Want (Middlebury College, 1997), was chosen by Edward Hirsch for the 1996 Bakeless Prize. 

About her collection Elegy, which traces the aftermath of her son's death, Wayne Koestenbaum writes: "Mary Jo Bang's remarkable elegies recall the late work of Ingeborg Bachmann—a febrile, recursive lyricism. Like Nietzsche or Plath, Bang flouts naysayers; luridly alive, she drives deep into aporia, her new, sad country. Her stanzas, sometimes spilling, sometimes severe, perform an uncanny death-song, recklessly extended—nearly to the breaking point."

Bang's work has been chosen three times for inclusion in the Best American Poetry series. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including a "Discovery"/The Nation award, a Pushcart Prize, a fellowship from the Guggenheim Foundation, and a Hodder Award from Princeton University. 

Bang was the poetry coeditor of the Boston Review from 1995 to 2005. She lives in St. Louis, Missouri, where she is a professor of English and the director of the creative writing program at Washington University.


Bibliography

A Doll for Throwing (Graywolf Press, 2017)
The Last Two Seconds (Graywolf Press, 2015)
The Bride of E: Poems (Graywolf Press, 2009)
Elegy (Graywolf Press, 2007)
The Eye Like a Strange Balloon (Grove Press, 2004)
The Downstream Extremity of the Isle of the Swans (University of Georgia Press, 2001)
Louise in Love (Grove Press, 2001)
Apology for Want (Middlebury College, 1997)

 

Tomb in Three Parts

I remove my heart from its marble casing and grind that shell into glass dust and force the dust and the occupational core into a box barely big enough to hold them and watch while the self-sealing lid sets itself. I then take the contraption to a place to which I doubt I will ever find my way back, even if I wanted to which I don’t. I have zero desire for what has been buried after having been done with like that one that was once. With such rigor and exactitude does the end come and more than once, which is a way of making a statement about the infinite duplicity of a suffocating blanket.

From A Doll for Throwing by Mary Jo Bang. Copyright © 2017 by Mary Jo Bang. Used by permission of The Permissions Company, Inc., on behalf of Graywolf Press, www.graywolfpress.org.

From A Doll for Throwing by Mary Jo Bang. Copyright © 2017 by Mary Jo Bang. Used by permission of The Permissions Company, Inc., on behalf of Graywolf Press, www.graywolfpress.org.

Mary Jo Bang

Mary Jo Bang

Mary Jo Bang is the author of several books of poems, including A Doll for Throwing (Graywolf Press, 2017). Her poems have been chosen three times for inclusion in the Best American Poetry series.

by this poet

poem
Some days, everything is a machine, by which I mean remove any outer covering, and you will most likely find component parts: cogs and wheels that whirr just like an artificial heart, a girl in a red cap redacting the sky, fish that look like blimps and fish-like blimps, an indifferent lighthouse that sweeps the
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I’ll begin by saying that objects can be unintentionally beautiful. Consider the simplicity of three or four self-aligning ball bearings, the economy of a compass. Brilliant, no? We thought so. We had confidence in architecture and design beyond the base commercial. Stage settings, furniture, typography, everything

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