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Mary Ann Samyn

Mary Ann Samyn

Mary Ann Samyn is the author of four books of poetry, most recently Purr (New Issues, 2005). Her work has won the Emily Dickinson Prize from the Poetry Society of America, the James Wright Poetry Award from Mid-American Review, and a Pushcart Prize. She teaches in the MFA program at West Virginia University.

Also by Mary Ann Samyn


Inside the Yellow Dress

Beauty Breaks InInside the Yellow Dress

$14.00 paper | 81 Pages
ISBN-13: 978-1-930974-09-8
Publication Date: October 2001
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The Green Rose Series
An Inland Seas Poetry Book

The dress of Inside the Yellow Dress is both the clothing of childhood, of girlhood in particular, and the garment of language we all put on. And like clothing, the poems are cut as though from cloth: here an armhole, here a sleeve, a cuff, and, finally, space where a body might go. Formally, the poems enact this interest in both fabric and lyric as they move across the page: the mind at work, language as desire and restraint, as loss and memory, as frontier. The page itself as the physical place where language lives. In Samyn's poems white space is not a surrender, but acknowledgment that this is space otherwise occupied. To be inside the dress is not simply to be wearing it; rather, as the poems say, assert: I live here, within the play and hush of language.

"Mary Ann Samyn's originality and intelligent energy, so evident in Captivity Narrative, continue here to spark their mysterious questions and longings. I admire hugely this poetry's humors and sorrows, the wild thoughtfulness, the risks."
         —Jean Valentine

"One of Mary Ann Samyn's poems asserts in its title 'A little splendor is nice,' and yet the splendors of this book are large, and nice as they are, they are also terrifying. This is a book about expectations, about not having any, and about how the language gives us more than we deserve anyway: 'Her mouth is, moving toward / everything.' Everything is just about right to describe the scope of this voice, this amazing book by one of our truly significant poets."
         —Bin Ramke

"Samyn's poems are not quite all there—they remind me of Hugh Kenner's statement about Pound’s take on Sappho, writing poems that feel as if half the parchment has been ripped off—Samyn's poems are elliptical in a strangely intimate sense, as if they are inaccessibly hermetic yet vibrate electrically because of her knack in slipping the reader into her poem… Samyn’s book is a significant feminist statement at the same time that it is an intensely personal document."
        —Vince Gotera, North American Review

In Praise of Captivity Narrative:

"Cryptic yet lucid, anguished yet calm, Mary Ann Samyn's amazing poems hover as near the unsayable lyric center as language can come––that place where self and imagination spin on a single axis and send off their startling flurry of sparks."
        —Gregory Orr

"Beauty bites in, mystery sings, in Captivity Narrative. The poems are about the facets of being and evoke a world both dreamlike and natural. Mary Ann Samyn knows how to give voice to the dislocations of spirit, imagining a wilderness and 'the thrill of ransom.' I marvel at the range of original sensibility. What a brilliant book."
        —Carol Frost


Inside the Yellow Dress (1)

        —It got worse and worse until I couldn’t put two words together: for example, pony tail, each part rearing up, wanting to be the main thing. But the main thing was the ribbon, which I wanted but didn’t mention for fear of angering the other words. Also the scissors, which lay on the dresser, admiring themselves in the mirror. I better not became my theme. As in childhood, when I was easily bribed by a little candy: the slightest nod or lemon drop.