Brittany Noakes Poetry Award, Finalist: Mary Buchinger

Mary Buchinger is the author of two books of poetry, Aerialist (2015) and Roomful of Sparrows (2008) and her poems have appeared in AGNI, DIAGRAM, Nimrod, PANK, Salamander, The Cortland Review, The Massachusetts Review, and elsewhere. Mary is co-President of the New England Poetry Club, Cambridge Poetry Ambassador, and Professor of English and Communication Studies at MCPHS University in Boston, Massachusetts.

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In asking Mary about a woman she admired, she gave a great answer: “There are so many women I admire, but the first one that pops into my mind is Rachel Carson for her ground-breaking advocacy for the environment. Hers was the first voice to question the idea of ‘better living through chemistry’ and to draw attention to the plight of the natural world. We have all benefited from her efforts.

I benefited from Mary’s poetic efforts/achievements in her entry to The Brittany Noakes Poetry Award by getting to read her wonderful words. Further, her entry fee benefited Soroptimist International of Rittenhouse Square, PA‘s Live Your Dream Award, a $1,000 award given to a single mother who has experienced hardships, such as surviving domestic violence and/or sex trafficking, and wants to go back to school. The contest was a worthy cause, and I am so grateful to Mary and everyone who entered!

Mary entered with four poems and it was difficult to choose a favorite, but I went with
“Redeem/The unread vision in the higher dream,” which was published in the print version of The Massachusetts Review, so alas I cannot share (but rest assured I will link you to another of her poems in a moment, after I write about why “Redeem…” spoke to me as much as it did). The poem closes on the word “light,” and it is an omnipresent theme throughout this poem, primarily in the concept of illumination. The poem opens with a simple pigeon, but there is something quickly noble about this creature whose “each feather is burning with sun.” I won’t ruin the narrative arc of the poem, but it is akin to the moment when you lock eyes with someone walking the other way on the street, and realize all at once they have a parallel life to your own, a brain full of thoughts that may be thinking something about you as your stare breaks, and you part ways, never to see them again.

The poem is about religion, and it is also about the self, further about finding someone to look at you and see you as holy. And for unnecessary wordplay, I would say this poem is “wholly” perfect, and a feat. Congratulations to Mary for having written it.

It’s so hard to describe a poem someone else hasn’t read. So I’m stopping, and turning instead to this poem Mary linked me to, in AGNI, “Daylight, muscle rippling.” It has its similarities to “Redeem,” in the form, the themes of light, the momentary glimpse of life with larger implications. Mary has me at “buff and/bullnecked, bale” and keeps throughout the poem by its sound, its “thin minutes” for the mice and voles, and the “barn cats [who] wait with/claws of night,” there is utter beauty in this poem of prey and predator, but also the nobility in work rings as strong in the poem as the day it describes.

I am so impressed with Mary Buchinger’s poetry and person. I hope you enjoy her AGNI poem as much as I did, and please join me in wishing her a congratulations on being in the top 10 of over 500 poems submitted to the 2016 Brittany Noakes Poetry Award!



1 thought on “Brittany Noakes Poetry Award, Finalist: Mary Buchinger

  1. Pingback: The Brittany Noakes Poetry Award-Winners and Finalists | Shevaun Brannigan

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