Mary Swander


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Mary Swander contends, “Writing is one of the best things we can do with our lives.” The poet and essayist sat down for this On the Fly interview in late 2010. Swander, a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, became the third Iowa Poet Laureate in 2009.

While acknowledging the solitary aspects of writing, Swander believes, “All writers eventually want to connect with the larger world and something that’s on a grander scale than their own little mind or soul.”

Swander is the author of poetry collections including Succession, Heaven-And-Earth House, Driving the Body Back, and The Girls on the Roof. Her memoirs include Out of the World: A Woman’s Life Among the Amish and The Desert Pilgrim. Her play, Farmscape, explores issues of food production.

Swander has won the Whiting Award, the Carl Sandburg Literary Award, and the Nation-Discovery Award. She is professor of English at Iowa State University.