Mary’s Dust


“Melinda Mueller’s great gift is translating historical detail and scientific fact into profound human experience. Long-awaited Mary’s Dust is a tour de force, a klatch of history’s Marys speaking through a stunning array of formal constraints—much as they did in life. Each Mary emerges from Mueller’s precise and brilliant word choice and imagery to linger “with a faint ringing.” Mary’s Dust is an ambitious, awe-inspiring, marvelous collection.” — Kathleen Flenniken, author of Plume.

We are honored to present another new work by one of Seattle’s most intriguing writers, Melinda Mueller.

Unsettling the stories of thirty-two historic Marys, the poems in Mary’s Dust startlingly reconfigure what we thought we knew about confinement and loss, liberation and love. With their variety of inventive and traditional forms, these poems offer testament to the strength of women creating their own narratives.

This book includes a digital download featuring commissioned music by cellist Lori Goldston. Her response, Cello Songs for Mary’s Dust premiered at the Chapel Performance Space on February 23, 2017. Our recording is from that evening. It also includes Ms. Mueller reading over thirty minutes of selections from the book.

Here’s one of the shorter poems in the book:

Marya Salomee Sklowdowka: b. 7 Nov 1867 – d. 4 July 1934

As, in her native Poland, the ember-colored
fox ignites the stubble field it streaks across,
ignites even the noonday dusk of the forest floor.
As, toddling into her parents’ long-ago garden
after dark, and crouching beside a lantern there,
she cried out: Look. The ants. They have shadows.
As religionists rummaged in the body for its soul,
that ant-shadow, which might “be shown on an X-ray
plate as a lighter spot on the darker shadow of the bone.”
So she fractionates the soul of pitchblende,
and having pent it in a glass vial, gazes into
its blue dazzle. And it gazes into her, being
the abyss Nietzsche warned of. And ransacks her.
And ignites her bones to ash. Heaven doth with us as we
with torches do
. Nor will she lift from it her hands.

“The Hidden Story of Marys who Defied the Contraints of Thier Time,” Elizabeth Austen, KUOW
“A Conversation with Melinda Mueller,” Leah Angstman, The Coil
“Thousand of Silences Fell,” Joannie Stangeland, Poetry Northwest
“All the Marys,” Hannah VanderHart, Up the Staircase

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Additional information






9 x 6, 108 pages

Publication Date

October 3, 2017