Mary Ruefle

b. 1952
Mary Ruefle

Though poet and essayist Mary Ruefle was born outside Pittsburgh, she spent her youth moving around the United States and Europe with her military family.

She has written numerous books of poetry, including Indeed I Was Pleased with the World (2007) and The Adamant (1989), which won the Iowa Poetry Prize. A Little White Shadow (2006), her book of erasures—found texts in which all but a few words have been erased from the page—reveals what Publishers Weekly, in a starred review, called “haiku-like minifables, sideways aphorisms, and hauntingly perplexing koans.” Ruefle’s free-verse poetry is at once funny and dark, domestic and wild. Reviewing Post Meridian (2000), critic Lisa Beskin of the Boston Review observed, “Like John Ashbery and James Tate, Mary Ruefle investigates the multiplicities and frailties of being with an associative inventiveness and a lightness of touch; the purposefulness of her enquiry never eclipses the remarkable beauty of her work.”

She has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation, as well as a Whiting Writers’ Award, and an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Her work has been anthologized in Best American Poetry, Great American Prose Poems (2003), American Alphabets: 25 Contemporary Poets (2006), and The Next American Essay (2002). Ruefle has also published a collection of fiction, The Most of It (2008).

Ruefle received a BA in Literature form Bennington College. She has taught at Vermont College and the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She lives in Vermont.

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Audio & Podcasts

The Poetry Magazine Podcast
  • Listen The Fish is Also Cooked
    Poems by Sharon Olds, Brenda Shaughnessy, Mary Ruefle, Reginald Dwayne Betts; plus David Yezzi on Anthony Hecht.
The Poetry Magazine Podcast
  • Listen "That discrete first pock"
    Poems by Kathleen Raine, Denise Levertov, W.S. Di Piero, Claudia Emerson, and Stuart Dybek; plus Mary Ruefle on fear and poetry.
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Poet Categorization

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

LIFE SPAN 1952–

Mary Ruefle

Biography

Though poet and essayist Mary Ruefle was born outside Pittsburgh, she spent her youth moving around the United States and Europe with her military family.

She has written numerous books of poetry, including Indeed I Was Pleased with the World (2007) and The Adamant (1989), which won the Iowa Poetry Prize. A Little White Shadow (2006), her book of erasures—found texts in which all but a few words have been erased from the . . .

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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