Mary Cresswell

Positive Capability

Sonnenizio on a line by Keats

When I have fears that I may cease to be
and embroil myself in fantasies of imminent
decease, I say stop. Save it for the night,
this ceaseless brooding over death, which
won’t accept proxies anyway. Today
I’ll forget all dismal prophecies of doom
and float blissful on the seven seas
of here and now. Pathetic fallacies
conjure up how each of us sees the dark
as stalking us. In our infancies alone
we see dark as such; then metaphor foresees
insufficiencies within the void.
But I'm seas ahead of death. Let light stay.
And (as the saying goes) let’s seize the day.

The Sparrow's Tale

After G. Herbert

My fear of flying towards a farther field
left me fluttering on a branch
with no strength to yield
nor yet advance —
But then
the south wind blew
from the ice where it began
to gentle, transferring old to new
and raising growth and green on every hand.


Mary Cresswell is from Los Angeles, lives on New Zealand’s Kapiti Coast, and writes poems for journals in NZ, the US, Australia, and the UK. Recent books are Fish Stories: Ghazals and Glosas (Canterbury University Press) and Body Politic: Nature Poems for Nature in Crisis. See also: www.read-nz.org/writer/cresswell-mary/.


Kris Beaver
Catherine Chandler
Mary Cresswell
Catherine Fitzpatrick
Nicole Caruso Garcia
Katie Hartsock
Jean L. Kreiling
Diane Lee Moomey
T. R. Poulson
Catherine Esposito Prescott
Carolyn Raphael
Claudia Schatz
Leslie Schultz


The Poetry by the Sea Spring Celebration is available for viewing on Youtube as a permanent memorial and tribute to Mezzo Cammin's founder, Dr. Kim Bridgford (1959-2020). Click here to watch.

The 2022 Poetry by the Sea conference will run May 24-27 2022.

My work contributes to the dialogue among feminist writers, historians, critics, and artists to define a space for creative work and agency for women. Through my figurative paintings, I challenge notions about the female body, redefine myths, and recover the lives of historical women. I draw upon my knowledge of art history, symbolism, and iconography to create rich stories about the women I paint. By projecting my own likeness into many of the portraits I create or by using models, I identify with the women I paint and explore my own sense of being an artist and woman in relation to accomplished women across centuries and cultures.

Here we see the pages from my newest artist book, I Wake Again, based on the life of Pre-Raphaelite artist and poet, Elizabeth Siddal. The poems are written by Kim Bridgford, who was a dear friend for 30 plus years. The pages are printed in lithography and the initial letter of each poem is done in silkscreen. The font of the poems is Morris Font. The ink color is graphite. I have reimagined key moments in Elizabeth’s life, such as her birth, her writing poetry, reading, painting, and her death. Each book contains red hair and has been bound by Maureen Cummins.

32 Poems
The Academy of American Poets
The Atlantic
The Christian Science Monitor
The Cortland Review
Favorite Poem Project
The Frost Place
The Iowa Review
Light Quarterly
Modern American Poetry
The Poem Tree
Poetry Daily
Poetry Society of America
Poets House
Raintown Review
String Poet
Valparaiso Poetry Review
Verse Daily
Women's Poetry Listserv
The Yale Review

Bread Loaf
Poetry by the Sea


Barefoot Muse Press
David Robert Books
David R. Godine Press
Graywolf Press
Headmistress Press
The Johns Hopkins University Press
Louisiana State University Press
Northwestern Univ Press
Ohio Univ Press
Persea Books
Red Hen Press
Texas Tech Univ Press
Tupelo Press
Univ of Akron Press
Univ of Arkansas Press
Univ of Illinois Press
Univ of Iowa Press
Waywiser Press
White Violet Press

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