Mary Angela Douglas? She is what used to be called a fugitive poet, the word, “fugitive” hinting, with a shudder of mysterious delight, a poet of amateur genius, unrecognized to all but a few fellow travelers. They move past clouds of shrubbery with quiet, solemn, discernment and delight, through wooded paths, towards those broad future plains where celebrants dance in unrestrained ecstasy.

We met Mary on Scarriet, when she responded positively and enthusiastically to Scarriet’s defense of embattled North Carolina poet laureate Valerie Macon.

Mary Angela Douglas permits us to see the adventures taking place in her “eternal child” soul—there is no need for her to research a piece of poetry, to fidget and stare into dust-mote space while she thinks of “a word.” Starlight brings her words, and poetry-light beams up from her like a fountain.

Louise Glück, meanwhile, comes adorned with recognitions and medals, but no less a poet for that, since her poetry shows at times it is wiser than prizes. The muses’ shadows cover the brightest fish in the stream (that brightness is just a dream); all are equal where the green water falls with a chuckle on the green rock.

Mary Angela Douglas has nothing to fear.

This is Scarriet, where the excellence of poetry lives in the veins that sing quietly in hands.

As the first seed, Louise Glück is accorded the honor of going first. She speaks.

The night so eager to accommodate strange perceptions.

The darknesses of this line are thrilling; we see a million shapes between our midnight and our brains. This line has muscle, like an eel waiting patiently in a cave beneath the sea.

Mary Angela Douglas approaches the podium with a flutter; her excitement is palpable. The stately Glück left profundity in her wake. Douglas stirs in the mossy stream. We see the reflection of a wren. The boughs hover.

With utterance of raindrop wings, Douglas:

The larks cry out and not with music.

This contest, between these two women—it has some strange import, we feel.

Poetry seems forever changed.

The ghost of Shelley comes to the edge of the wood.





  1. maryangeladouglas said,

    March 15, 2016 at 4:40 pm

    I am so delighted to be mentioned in the same space with Louise Gluck who placed her children in a poem with the borders, the shadows of roses (In A Summer Garden) and I am glad she has heaped up prizes. Roses should be heaped up too before her verse. (unless she is allergic to them).

    As to what is written here about my poetry there is an unearthly coincidence here. The emphasis on starlight. “He made the stars also” it says in the Bible in the poem on the Creation. What an afterthought. As if in cataloguing the beauty of creation the poet had forgotten to mention the multitudes of the heavens. So much is in that ‘also”. That is a line of poetry I am continually amazed at. That is one thing. Here is another.

    One day or rather one starlit evening I walked out in a countryside setting at a Catholic college retreat in Missouri and the stars also were in full regalia. I had just written a poem I called “Constellations” and I went out of doors and walked and walked around a glassy, star reflecting lake in the near Spring air and prayed and with that poem, I made a vow to God to offer all my poems to Him forever, starting with that poem about the stars.

    This was on March 13, 1970 almost 46 years ago to the very day. This realization coupled with the painting above the essay made me cry because miraculously you reminded me of my exact beginning in poetry. Thank you Scarriet. Thank you Thomas Graves.

    This is the last stanza of that poem: “It is/the unbending/Relentless/light of forever/That I have watched Wordlessly/In the night skies.” Looking back, I don’t understand my capitalizations in the poem; maybe it was the ghost of Shelley rippling out of the Modern Library Giant edition of Keats and Shelley I owned from my mother whose friend Joseph had inscribed in it “with all my love”.

    • maryangeladouglas said,

      March 15, 2016 at 4:53 pm

      Sorry for overloading comments as I do so often but things just don’t occur to me all at the same time; as a poet and a person I’m sure you klnow what I mean. I am so glad you referenced Valerie Macon here. If it wasn’t for Valerie I wouldn’t have found Scarriet and her standing up for poetry in the way she did at the time was was so belitled and scorned with such dignity, beauty, and love remains for me one of the watershed moments of American and world poetry. I highly recommend her verse, the most recent volume being as Scarriet has mentioned, A String of Black Pearls through Main Street Rag Press a truly historical volume because all these poems were written so to speak under fire (of the poets who came against her appointment as poet laureate and her subsequent resignation also drawing fire though it was done for peace, freedom, and as a statement that POETRY BELONGS TO WHOEVER LOVES IT. PERIOD.

      • maryangeladouglas said,

        March 15, 2016 at 4:58 pm

        Should read that Valerie Macon stood up for poetry at the time despite being belittled and scorned, with dignity, beauty and love as one of the watershed moments of American and World poetry. Very sorry for going on and on here; I was too discombobulated by the beauty and coincidences of your essay, Thomas Graves.

    • chumkisharma said,

      March 22, 2016 at 3:39 pm

      That line is otherworldly Mary..fills me with a nameless ache..can you post the whole poem here please?

      • maryangeladouglas said,

        March 22, 2016 at 4:56 pm

        Thank you for asking Chumki. This poem is very precious to me as you can imagine! I wrote others of course when I was younger and was conscious of a calling then, especially one called Verses of An Early Spring that my high school principal made me read over and over on the intercom system (after it won a prize) at my Catholic school (which I think made my fellow students sick of me literally). This poem too was a poem of inner vocation. And there was a poem a year earlier called Magnolias that I showed my Grandmother and she called all her friends on the telephone and read it to them excitedly which I remember so fondly. But in the Constellations poem it was a feeling of I am going forward with this my whole life under God, under God’s stars…and everything is for Him.


        The ancient ones
        Gave them names.
        But I alone
        do not dare
        to fix the stars in patterns.
        And they found them
        light in darkness
        and peace in pain.
        Yet in these later centuries
        The stars still move in unnamed cycles.
        And shepherds have gone to their quiet deaths
        Pure, clear shining in the dark.
        And I,
        still have not the faith
        To praise the moon
        And all her silver way
        Of soothing rumpled dreams.
        I alone
        Cannot call them by their names-
        The terrible, the silent, and the swift.
        It is
        the unbending
        light of forever
        That I have watched
        in the night skies.

        Mary Angela Douglas 13 march 1970 (age 19)

        • maryangeladouglas said,

          March 24, 2016 at 4:20 am

          This is a more recent poem on my feeling about poetry now, as a much older person.

          The Word Poetry Does Not Exist

          the word poetry does not exist
          it is a flame
          or it is nothing

          it is the flare that illumines
          the disaster
          the white stone path home

          it is the moon that vast ship sailing
          through indeterminate clouds
          it is not really outloud outloud

          but charged within
          it is the lightening outside the enterprise
          it is the colour green zigzaging through

          the devastations
          it is apart and yet-
          it is my heart it is my heart it is my heart

          mary angela douglas 9 february 2016

          • maryangeladouglas said,

            March 24, 2016 at 8:28 am

            Sorry, just one more: my one more, homage to the fairy stories my mother and grandmother gave to me.


            this christening hour so watercoloured there
            I kept through many years
            and single hearted prayer

            Lord, that the beauteous may not vanish.
            and they have rocketed away,
            have pocketed the gold

            that I remember from the old books, loveliest, first
            and how their gleams in realistic detail
            were to me then as lines from Heaven

            I could never banish but find redress
            of even grownup woes in their borderlands
            within the shadows of imaginary snows

            of tempests palest green of sights not seen
            except in dreams if there
            and illustrated, rare beyond the commonplace

            cherished and given to me so long ago oh stories, stories
            to flourish now despite all men can know
            of facts, mere facts to the contrary.

            mary angela douglas 24 march 2016

  2. maryangeladouglas said,

    March 15, 2016 at 7:57 pm

    A new star-poem written just now…


    [my Father’s house, on Sunday afternoons…]

    then we hand coloured the stars on Sunday afternoons
    in our Spring colouring books
    sitting at the little card table

    in the living room
    while the March winds blew
    in high treetops

    out the picture window.
    how glad I am to think of how high
    on a hill that house was

    and of the sound of the winds poured
    out as from a cristal pitcher by God.
    and a storybook version of Heidi

    on a little red record
    played over and over
    and she is singing and wreathed with flowers

    in the high mountains

    and the wind is singing
    oh you are well
    and all the meadows are yours

    and you can colour them in
    if you want to
    whatever crayon you choose.

    mary angela douglas 15 march 2016

  3. thomasbrady said,

    March 15, 2016 at 8:49 pm

    That’s a lovely ‘creation’ story, Mary.

    It is
    the unbending
    light of forever
    That I have watched Wordlessly
    In the night skies.

  4. maryangeladouglas said,

    March 15, 2016 at 9:27 pm

    Thank you. i remember how it felt looking up at that sky with its wall to wall stars. I haven’t seen any stars since 2008 because of floodlights where I live but thank God I still remember that feeling.

    • maryangeladouglas said,

      March 15, 2016 at 11:12 pm



      everybody’s razzle dazzle
      walking in the sunshine God made
      admiring the flowers;

      the man made landscapes
      which are lovely, it is true
      in all their variations, hues

      their little borders
      their benches by the roses
      their unexpected fountains.


      the goldfish gaping at clouds
      and fresh mint in the yards and clover..
      don’t worry, we’ll make bigger typos

      before It’s All Over
      and call it the avant garde.

      but God, where is He in the picture?
      did you make a bench for Him near the white lilies,
      the irises flaring their purple?

      he must be tired after making that
      many flowers, the shadow specific to
      each tree and the orchards

      o the orchards. each Spring.

      don’t you feel a little sorry for Him
      so out of the way
      relegated to nothing really

      barely invited to the flower party
      not even in the Play,
      or was He?

      but we’re so razzle dazzle in the sunlight
      thinking the Martians came and invented it all
      or something, chorused the two year olds,

      made a Big Bang Back In Time
      o thank you Great Big Ole Firecracker
      o thank you Martian man our dinocester

      or plese and thank you Mister Humongo Particle,

      String Cheese Of the Unified Strawberry
      Fields Forever…
      long live that scene.

      but Christians who think there is a God
      you know, those people are just silly.
      don’t you think?

      thinking God could feel when
      He’s not wanted…
      thinking He cared about what He made

      and wished you would just pay Him a visit
      once in a while.
      or send a card.


      mary angela douglas 15 march 2016

      • maryangeladouglas said,

        March 15, 2016 at 11:48 pm

        Something about this poem lends it to being read two opposite ways. I mean it as a Christian that the only sane thing for me is to believe God is the Creator who cares about what He made and poured his whole heart and soul into it. Big Bang sounds fantastically made up as do other partial explanations. He’s real to me. I see flowers branching out all over Him.

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