Cresswell, Mary

Cresswell, Mary


Primary publisher
Canterbury University Press,
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In Brief

Mary Cresswell is a poet and science editor. Born in Los Angeles, she moved to New Zealand in 1970. Her poetry has appeared in New Zealand, Australian, Canadian, US and UK literary journals. Janis Freegard writes, “Mary Cresswell’s poetry is an adventure playground where experiments in form and ingenious wordplay are part of the game. ... She’ll make you smile and she’ll make you think.”


Cresswell, Mary (1937 -) is a poet and science editor.

Cresswell is from Los Angeles, and she attended the University of California at Riverside and graduated from Stanford University in California with a degree in history and English literature. She spent time in both Germany and Japan before settling in New Zealand in 1970. Before her retirement in 2010 she worked professionally as a freelance science editor and copy-editor.

A widely published poet, Cresswell’s writing has appeared in New Zealand, Australian, Canadian, US and UK literary journals. She was one of four poets who co-authored Millionaire’s Shortbread (University of Otago, 2003). Her collection of satiric verse, Nearest and Dearest, was published by Steele Roberts in 2009. The US journal Light Quarterly described Nearest and Dearest as “light verse in the high, amusing manner.” Her book Trace Fossils was published by Steele Roberts in 2011. The manuscript was runner-up for the 2008 Kathleen Grattan Award (judged by Fleur Adcock). Fish Stories, published in 2015 by Canterbury University Press and designed in collaboration with Ilam School of Fine Arts, builds on a collection of ghazals and glosas to examine the shapes these two imported verse forms might take in English.

Professor Lesley Wheeler (Washington & Lee University, USA) writes, “Natural disaster looms throughout ... Fish Stories: avalanche, flood, storm, quake. Sometimes her slant-rhymed poems mimic an environment gone haywire, its patterns fragmenting. The intense formality of this collection, however ... more often suggests the connective forces still holding the world together.”

Since 2012, Cresswell has by invitation been reviewing for poetry journals in New Zealand and Australia.

(Last updated August 2015)


Updated January 2017.