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The hidden story of Marys who defied the constraints of their time

Bill Radke talks with poetry correspondent Elizabeth Austen about Seattle-based poet and science teacher Melinda Mueller’s poem “Covert Acts.”

The three-part poem is set in the American Civil War, and illuminates the lives of Union soldier Private Mary Galloway, field surgeon Mary Edwards Walker, and freedwoman and Union spy Mary Bowser — three women who defied the constraints of their time.

The poem is part of Mueller's new collection, “Mary’s Dust.” In each poem, Mueller imagines the inner life of a historical Mary, beginning with Mary, the mother of Jesus, and continuing through the centuries. While some are famous, like Mary Magdalene and Marie Curie, many are largely unknown, like the Victorian explorer Mary Henrietta Kingsley and other mystics, scientists and artists.

Mueller will read from “Mary’s Dust” at Elliott Bay Books in Seattle on December 12 at 7 p.m.

Images courtesy of Melinda Mueller; audio courtesy of Entre Ríos Books, publisher of “Mary’s Dust.”

Hear Melinda Mueller reading more from “Mary’s Dust” below:


“Concerto for Anna Maria Dal Violin”

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