“Mackey’s crisp-edged perceptions are set down in these poems with a sensuous, compassionate, and utterly unflinching eye.”— Jane Hirshfield
“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’s published works include six collections of poetry, including Breaking The Fever (Marsh Hawk Press, 2006) and Sugar Zone (forthcoming from Marsh Hawk Press, October 2011) and twelve novels. Her 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. Three times Garrison Keillor has featured her poetry on his program The Writer’s Almanac. Mackey’s work has been translated into twelve foreign languages including Japanese, Hebrew, Greek, 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 the last 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 use Portuguese as incantation to evoke the lyrical space that lies at the conjunction between Portuguese and English. More of her poetry can be found at www.marymackey.com.