Thursday, November 1, 2012

Mary Mackey's SUGAR ZONE

Sugar Zone
Mary Mackey
Amazon Kindle
107 pages
Subjects:  Poetry, Bilingual, Portuguese, History, Culture, Ecology

Professor and poet, Mary Mackey's new collection of poetry, recently published by Marsh Hawk Press, intertwines English and Portuguese in a brilliant, lyrical, visionary meditation on nature, childhood, the destruction of the rainforests of the Amazon, and the real and psychological landscapes of travel. 

While creating visions of Brazilian favelas, uncut jungles, and fado music, Mackey also touches on the broader human feelings of wonder, displacement, and confusion. Sugar Zone can appeal to citizens of the world as well as those familiar with the Amazon and its people. 

It's a fine line between exotic, sensuous adventure and death in these powerfully  haunted poems full of the vitality and reality of the jungle. Belinda Subraman

Sample Poems from Sugar Zone

Walking Upside Down on the Other Side of the World

Quando falamos nesta cidade perdida
when we speak in this lost city
our words bubble out of our mouths
like the orações/prayers of drowned children
through air so hot and green    it holds us
in suspension like bottled glass

here perto deste grande rio/near this great river 
on the edge of this great forest of stumps  
anaconda clouds glide over us like sinuous birds
and the throats of lovers fill with mud and black water   

here you can get anyone killed for $50
by the jagunços in cowboy boots and aviator glasses
who sit in the bars nursing cold beers  

here iron ore is sucked out of
the earth like blood    and a section
of bamboo filled with
gold dust will buy a you a quick death

in this Anopheles democracy of sudden disasters
mosquitoes spread malaria equally to everyone
garimpeiros, caboclos,
colonels who ride in air conditioned cars
babies who sleep in hammocks

here the dead speak the words
the living are afraid to utter
and each kiss    given in fear
is as swift as the tongue of a bat
probing a flower

The Jaguars That Prowl Our Dreams

Up on the Orinoco, Rio Negro, Solimões,
Tocantins, Xingu, Javary
they’re drinking the bebida preta/black drink  
snake vine  ayahuasca/yage/    blood of the great anaconda
with the smoke of burning rainforests in their nostrils
and o gosto de cinzas/taste of ashes on their tongues

Eles estão comendo    they’re eating
purple snails    powdered viper venom
lagartas esmagadas
    flowers that dye their lips
the color of blood    singing of cities of blue glass  
and the jaguars that prowl our dreams

O que mais/what elseare they seeing?
O que mais/
what else       do they know?
they’re not saying
they’re not telling
they’re calling on the ghost tribes instead

ghosts of the Tupinambá, Tupiniquim, Aimoré
lost upriver    forever

lost in the burning world

Mackey has a B.A. from Harvard and a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. She is currently Professor Emeritus in English at California State University, Sacramento, where she was one of the founders of the Graduate Creative Writing Program.  A novelist as well as a poet, her writing was influenced by the work of renown ethnobotanist Richard Evans Schultes. She frequently travels to Brazil with her husband, professor and author Angus Wright. 

A diverse group of writers have praises Mary Mackey's poetry, including Wendell Barry, Adrienne Rich, Garrison Keillor, and Marge Piercy. She has advocated through the PEN Foundation on behalf of writers facing censorship and repression around the world, and in 1978 co-founded the Feminist Writers with Adrienne Rich and Susan Griffin to encourage the literary efforts of female authors. Sugar Zone has also been nominated for a 2012 Northern California Book Award. 
You may learn more about Dr. Mary Mackey on her website, 

Please visit her Facebook 

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