Winner of the Wheelbarrow Books Prize
published February 2022
by Wheelbarrow Books through Michigan State University Press
A compelling collection of poems, Late Self-Portraits conveys an intimate description of lives through a collage of portraits and affliction. Weaving history and the sacred, both intimate and worldly, one encounters a blind Borges with his mother, a glass confessional in the Cathedral of Notre Dame, Frida Kahlo in Mexico, ghosts, a neurosurgeon’s prognosis, and Marie Laveau in New Orleans. Whether in a field with Joan of Arc, encountering the artist Basquiat, or having dinner with Hades, these are haunting poems of loss and unearthing, equally bold, personal, and tender.
Michigan State University Press interview March 2022.
in praise of Late Self-Portraits
Review by Ruth Hoberman,
Motherhood Literature & Art (MER), December 2022
“In Late Self-Portraits Mary Morris writes of bodily experiences that cannot ultimately be arrested. Celestial and earthly, peeling back ordinary conceptions of time and space, her poems reach from imagining the interior of the body to experiences of disembodiment. Here, the body is a directional signal pointing outward beyond itself. Her overarching visions, attuned to marvels, create an almost otherworldly sheen in these questing, exacting, deeply realized poems that are radiantly elegant and—in the best sense—unsettling.”
—Lee Upton, author of Visitations: Stories and
Bottle the Bottles the Bottles the Bottles”
“In the spirit of the great feminist painter Artemisia Gentileschi, the poet Mary Morris, in her luminous Late Self-Portraits, takes on medicine and illness, aging and death, art and spirituality, releasing from the darkness a profound light of transcendence and revelation. She reconciles the body that always betrays us, with the wholeness of nature and our place in it, energy temporal in forms but eternal in belonging. Through masterfully crafted and emotionally complex poems, many of them portraits of herself through the lens of strong women in history, like Joan of Arc and Harriet Tubman, and the deconstruction of great men, like Rembrandt and Caravaggio, Morris brings together the soul and physical body into one great mural of the self in cohesion with others, the universe, and the divine.”
—Heathen (Heather Derr-Smith), author of Thrust
“Late Self-Portraits is a ravishing memento mori by a poet in whose skilled hands death, lost love, even her own epileptic seizures become occasions for wonder and rhapsody. Mary Morris refuses a faith that sanctifies guilt and renunciation, conjuring instead a new religion where “bloody icons” are replaced by sunlit mountain temples. She is a poet who sings in the pyre. Like her beloved Joan of Arc, she is 'aflame for our world.'”
—Frank Paino, author of Obscura.