In this stunning new collection, Mackey offers her readers fifty-eight intensely lyrical poems written with the same skill and passion that made her previous collection Sugar Zone winner of the 2012 PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Award. Complex yet entirely accessible, the poems in Travelers With No Ticket Home form a visionary meditation on nature, childhood, the destruction of the rainforest of the Amazon, and the real and psychological landscape of travel. Taking us from a small farm in Western Kentucky to the jungles of Brazil, Mackey touches on the broader human feelings of wonder, displacement, grief, love, and love’s endless complications. Here too, for the first time, readers will find Mackey’s complete Kama Sutra of Kindness, a series of seven love poems written over the last thirty years.
“Mackey’s crisp-edged perceptions are set down in these poems with a sensuous, compassionate, and utterly unflinching eye.”— Jane Hirshfield
“It is difficult to resist the temptation to compare Mary Mackey to Elizabeth Bishop. In both we experience the elusive spirit of life south of the Equator; both poets are stunningly imagistic and musical and awake to topography, sociology, and the world beyond.” –The Huffington Post
On Sugar Zone: Winner of the 2012 PEN Oakland-Josephine Miles Award for Excellence in Literature
“In Sugar Zone Mary Mackey takes you on a fascinating journey to the interior, somewhere between Saint Theresa’s Inner Castle and the thicket of Eros—but also a place of desperate actuality, even if it is ‘on the other side of the world.’ Mackey joins other visionary poets of dépaysement—Henri Michaux in Asia, John Ash in Anatolia, Sharon Doubiago in Peru, Lorca in Manhattan. But Mackey really seems to recover a lost part of herself in the edgy lyricism of the tropics, haunted by fado, forró, and death. Please read ‘Cold Snap’; who but Mackey could have written it? Sugar Zone authoritatively creates a language and a culture; but the lines are tense with the vulnerability of lovers, strangers, and travelers with no ticket home.” — Dennis Nurkse
“Mary Mackey’s new collection Sugar Zone is the culmination of many trips to Brazil. Most poems crackle with powerful and lush imagery; others are stark and draw their strength from the wisdom of the saying. These are death haunted poems but full of the vitality of the jungle, the favelas of Rio, the Amazon itself.” — Marge Piercy
"Mary Mackey’s . . . past work has been translated into twelve foreign languages, so it is fitting that Sugar Zone include Portuguese words and phrases as a means of deepening the complexity of its descriptions of Brazil’s alluring chaos. The collection is divided into four parts that consistently submerge the reader in the uncertainty and beauty of Mackey’s world. Weaving throughout the poems are, to name a few, the powerful themes of chaos, love, death . . . The uncertainty is palpable, but rational and unafraid.... As a reader and a writer, what I found most refreshing about Mackey’s poetry was her diction and style. She has an excellent ear for understanding sounds and rhythm. . . . The alternating liquids (Rs and Ls) and warm vowels . . . are absolutely beautiful. Mackey truly has a gift, because she is able to reproduce lines that are equally lovely and clever. . . . This is a dense, vivid, and complex work, and certainly worthy of further attention." — Laura O'Brien Synchronized Chaos Magazine
"Sugar Zone blends Portuguese and English, adding a layer of texture for English-only readers and nuanced meanings for those who read Portuguese. Mackey guides readers through dangerous, beautiful places where “they’re drinking the bebida preta / black drink” and “the heat is a long hiss / a desert of bones,” seamlessly thread[ing] together sharp, crisp images and language to create rhythm, music, and a world that includes gods like Xangó and Olokun and personas like Solange who “saw us coming / in a dream” and “left on a ribbon of water / and gold light.”— Sacramento News and Review
Sugar Zone reviewed in the Huffington Post here.
ISBN 978-0-9846353-1-3 $15.00
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mary Mackey is the author of 6 collections of poetry including Travelers With No Ticket Home (March Hawk Press, 2014) and Sugar Zone (Marsh Hawk Press 2011), winner of the 2012 PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Award for Literary Excellence. 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. Four times Garrison Keillor has featured her poetry on his program The Writer’s Almanac. She is also the author of 13 novels including her ground-breaking, poetic novel Immersion (Shameless Hussy Press, 1972) recently reprinted by the Authors Guild. Mackey’s novels have made The New York Times and San Francisco Chronicle bestseller lists and been translated into twelve foreign languages including Japanese, Greek, Hebrew, Russian, and Finnish. She is past president of the West Coast branch of PEN, a Fellow of the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and Professor Emeritus of English at California State University, Sacramento. For more than twenty years she has been traveling to Brazil with her husband, Angus Wright, who writes about land reform and environmental issues. At present she is working on a series of poems inspired by the works of Brazilian poets and novelists. Combining Portuguese and English, she creates poems that often use Portuguese as incantation to evoke the lyrical space that lies at the conjunction between Portuguese and English. You can connect with her and sample her work at www.marymackey.com and https://www.facebook.com/marymackeywriter