The Creative Process: A Visit With A Writer with Mary Mackey

Product Description
$ 1.99

MP3 Download

Mackey writes both prose and poetry and has published many novels, including her historical fiction of Neolithic times, and many highly acclaimed books of poetry. She reveals her writing and creative process and how each kinds of writing requires a different approach. She describes her process of “creative trance” that helps her to move into her own unconscious. She moves into a “very light kind of trance. It’s called liminal, where you stand on the threshold between the dream world and the regular world. You have a foot in each side and you can participate each way. I want to go to that world [that is a] wordless space before words exist and where the words bubble up and come to me. Then I want to be able to take them back to consciousness.” She also shares how some of her writing has come when her body temperature goes over 105o. These fevered states gave her priceless poetic gifts. She says there is something that happens neurologically that gives access to other dimensions. She also speaks about her mission as a poet is to be a witness, “I think of one of my missions or duties as a poet in this time is to preserve as a witness the beauty of the old planet, the planet that we’re losing. And to write it for future generations. I see a lot of my poetry as being written for future generations.” (hosted by Justine Willis Toms)


Mary Mackey is a novelist, screenwriter, and poet. She’s Professor Emeritus of English and former Writer-in-Residence at California State University, Sacramento. During her twenties, she lived in the rain forests of Costa Rica. Recently, she’s been traveling to Brazil incorporating her experiences in the tropical rainforests into her fiction and poetry.

She's the author of:

Her books of poetry include: 

  • Travelers with No Ticket Home (Marsh Hawk Press 2014)
  • Sugar Zone, winner of the 2012 PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Award for Literary Excellence;
  • Breaking The Fever (Marsh Hawk Press 2006)
  • The Jaguars That Prowl Our Dreams: New and Selected Poems 1974 through 2018 (winner of Eric Hoffer Book Award 2019)

To learn more about Mary Mackey go to:

Topics explored in this dialogue include: 

  • What was her time at Harvard when women were not allowed the same privileges as men
  • How not having mentors at Harvard was helpful to Mackey in the long run
  • What her thoughts are regarding Shakespeare’s Juliet set in a modern romance beyond Disney’s heroine caricatures
  • What is the difference between prose and poetry
  • How Mackey uses “creative trance” in her writing process
  • What gifts her fevered states bring to her when her body temperature has gone over 105o
  • How she used “creative trance to conjure up Amonah, the Sea Goddess
  • How her poem “The Invisible Force of Amapa” is a tribute to endangered species of the rainforests
  • How science, poetry, and all creativity come from the same deep inner source
  • How music, words, mysticism, inspiration, and poetry are ancient concepts that come with being human
  • Mackey shares poems from her childhood in Western Kentucky and about her Aunt Ebbie, who’s arm and leg was “et by a hog.”
  • Mackey shares some poems from the Brazilian rain forest
  • Why it is important to read your writing out loud to yourself
  • Why revision is an important part of creative writing
  • Mackey gives suggestions on writer’s block and how to get past it
  • How publishing has changed in the last decades

 Host: Justine Willis Toms   Interview Date: 11/27/2019   Program Number: 3695

Music Playlist

From Album: Hidden Sky
Artist: Jami Sieber
2004 Out Front Music #OFM 1010

Opening Essay: Track 02 Out of the Mist
Music break 1: Track 03 Homage
Music Break 2: Track 04 Sukhotai Rain
Music Break 3: Track 06 A Common Music