Mary Mackey is Professor Emeritus of English and former Writer-in-Residence at California State University, Sacramento. Related through her father's family to Mark Twain, she graduated magna cum laude from Harvard and received her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of Michigan. Her published works include seven volumes of poetry: Travelers With No Ticket Home (Marsh Hawk Press 2014), Sugar Zone (winner of the 2012 PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Award for Literary Excellence), Breaking The Fever, Split Ends, One Night Stand, Skin Deep, and The Dear Dance of Eros. Mackey is also the author of thirteen novels: Immersion, Shameless Hussy Press, McCarthy's List, Doubleday; The Last Warrior Queen, Putnam; A Grand Passion, Simon & Schuster; Season of Shadows, Bantam; The Kindness of Strangers, Simon & Schuster; The Year The Horses Came, Harper San Francisco; The Horses at the Gate, Harper San Francisco; The Fires of Spring, Penguin, The Stand In, Kensington Books, Sweet Revenge, Kensington Books; The Notorious Mrs. Winston, Berkley Books; and The Widow’s War, Berkley books.) Her two comic novels (The Stand In and Sweet Revenge) were written under the pen name “Kate Clemens
While at Harvard Mary Mackey, an English major, came under the influence of the father of modern ethnobotany, Richard Evans Schultes to whom she attributes a lifelong interest in botany and ecology, themes which often appear in her novels and poetry. During her twenties, she lived in field stations in the then-remote jungles of Costa Rica. After receiving her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of Michigan, she moved to California to become Professor of English and Writer-in-Residence at California State University, Sacramento (CSUS). Mackey was one of the founders of the CSUS Women’s Studies Program. She also founded the CSUS English Department Graduate Creative Writing Program along with poet Dennis Schmitz and novelist Richard Bankowsky. In 1978 Mackey founded the Feminist Writers Guild with poets Adrienne Rich and Susan Griffin and novelist Valerie Miner. From 1989-1992, Mackey served as President of the West Coast Branch of PEN American Center involving herself in PEN’s international defense of persecuted writers. Mackey retired from California State University in 2008.
Mackey’s works are presently available in hard copy, as Audible Books, and on all e-book platforms including Kindle, Nook, iPad, Android, iBooks, and Kobo. They have appeared on The New York Times and San Francisco Chronicle Bestseller Lists, sold over a million and a half copies, and been translated into twelve foreign languages including Japanese, Russian, Hebrew, Greek, and Finnish. Mackey’s poems have been praised by Wendell Berry, Jane Hirshfield, Dennis Nurkse, Ron Hansen, Dennis Schmitz, and Marge Piercy for their beauty, precision, originality, and extraordinary range. Garrison Keillor has featured her poetry four times on The Writer’s Almanac. Besides winning the PEN Award, Sugar Zone (published by Marsh Hawk Press), was a Finalist for the 2011 Northern California Book Reviewers Award in Poetry. A screenwriter as well as a novelist and poet, Mackey has also sold feature-length screenplays to Warner Brothers as well as to independent film companies. John Korty directed the filming of her original award-winning screenplay Silence.
Mackey’s nonfiction, scholarly works, and memoirs have appeared in various journals and anthologies. She has reviewed books for The San Francisco Chronicle, The San Jose Mercury News, the American Book Review, and a variety of other publications; has lectured at Harvard and the Smithsonian; and has contributed to such diverse print and on-line publications as The Chiron Review, Redbook, and Salon. A fellow of the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, she is an active member of the St. Mary’s College Creative Writing Program Advisory Board, the Poetry Committee of the Northern California Book Awards, the National Book Critics Circle, and The Authors Guild. In Spring 2009, the San Francisco Branch of the National League of American Pen Women established the Mary Mackey Short Story Prize.
During her twenties, she lived in the rain forests of Costa Rica. Recently, she has been traveling to Brazil and incorporating her experiences into her fiction and poetry. At present Mackey lives in northern California with her husband Angus Wright, Emeritus Professor of Environmental studies. To learn more about her and her work, you are invited to visit her homepage at: www.marymackey.com