Feb 052012


Mary Ruefle is a vastly brilliant poet who seems mainly to function in life at the level of the oracular. She is an old friend and colleague at Vermont College of Fine Arts, which makes me one of the lucky ones. You watch Mary read or listen to one of her lectures and think, Oh, right! That’s what I am supposed to be doing with my life. Art! Poetry! Books! Her restless intelligence and passion for text has led her from poetry to erasure books to these little assemblage poems, texts snipped from old books combined with antique postcards picked up at the secondhand bookstores she haunts. These are very strange objects, doubly inspired by absence (or nostalgia), words that once meant something else in a different context and images of forgotten places and people, and by ironic juxtaposition. Detritus & irony. She mailed me a large stack of these; I offer here the ones I liked the best.


Moonlight Memoroes










old woman





MARY RUEFLE‘s latest book is Selected Poems (Wave Books, 2010), which won the William Carlos Williams Award. Her many publications include A Little White Shadow (2006), a book of erasures; Tristimania (Carnegie-Mellon University Press, 2003), Among the Musk Ox People (2002); Apparition Hill (2001); Cold Pluto (2001); Post Meridian (2000); Cold Pluto (1996); The Adamant (1989), winner of the 1988 Iowa Poetry Prize; Life Without Speaking (1987); and Memling’s Veil (1982). Also a book of prose, The Most of It (2008), and a comic book, Go Home and Go To Bed (Pilot Books/Orange Table Comics, 2007). A collection of her lectures, Madness, Rack and Honey – all of which were given at VCFA over the years – will be published by Wave in the fall of 2012. She has won many awards for her work, including an NEA, a Whiting Award, a Guggenheim, and an Award in Literature from The American Academy of Arts and Letters. She also makes one-of-a-kind erasure books, which have been exhibited in museums and galleries. Mary lives in southern Vermont.

  10 Responses to “Moonlit Memories of Immature Genius: Mary Ruefle”

  1. You can never get enough Mary Ruefle.

  2. <3. very inspiring. you are right, doug. these remind me to make art.

  3. Mary sent me one of these too, which I adore and look at daily. She is a dynamo. A force.

  4. I keep one of Mary’s books on my bedside table because her words are some of the best medicine to remind me what I want to be doing with my days (and nights). I’m delighted to read that a collection of her lectures is forthcoming; they were always among my favorites at VCFA.

  5. I just love these.

  6. I love the openendedness of these. Whenever I go into the often, I comprehend how far away it is…maybe the seldom is much closer than it appears.

  7. “oracular” , say yeah!…there is no more powerful voice of authority than that found in mary’s words and images…she doesn’t let us get away with anything…

  8. Mary is an original!

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