Mary Jo Bang

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Mary Jo Bang
Bang at the 2015 Texas Boat Festival
Bang at the 2015 Texas Boat Festival
Born (1946-10-22) October 22, 1946 (age 72)
Waynesville, Missouri, USA
Alma materNorthwestern University
Polytechnic of Central London
Columbia University

Mary Jo Bang (born October 22, 1946 in Waynesville, Missouri) is an American poet.[1]


Bang grew up in Ferguson, Missouri. She graduated from Northwestern University, in sociology, from the Polytechnic of Central London, and from Columbia University, with an M.F.A. She teaches at Washington University in St. Louis.

Her work has appeared in New American Writing, Paris Review, The New Yorker,[2] The New Republic, Denver Quarterly and Harvard Review.

Bang was the poetry co-editor of the Boston Review from 1995 to 2005. She was a judge for the 2004 James Laughlin Award.

She lives in St. Louis, Missouri.

Awards and recognitions[edit]



  • Bang, Mary Jo (1997). Apology for want. UPNE.
  • Louise In Love. Grove Press. 2001. ISBN 978-0-8021-3760-9.
  • The Downstream Extremity of the Isle of the Swans. University of Georgia Press. March 2001. ISBN 978-0-8203-2292-6.
  • The Eye Like a Strange Balloon. Grove Press. 2004. ISBN 978-0-8021-4157-6.
  • Elegy. Graywolf Press. 2007. ISBN 978-1-55597-483-1.
  • The Bride of E: Poems. Graywolf Press. 2009.
  • The Inferno (2013)
  • The Last Two Seconds: Poems (2015)

In translation[edit]

  • Eskapaden. Selected Poems. German/Engl. (Luxbooks, Wiesbaden 2010)

List of poems[edit]

Title Year First published Reprinted/collected
All through the night 2013 Bang, Mary Jo (December 2, 2013). "All through the night". The New Yorker. 89 (39): 42–43.



Wayne Koestenbaum writes:

Mary Jo Bang's remarkable elegies recall the late work of Ingeborg Bachmann—a febrile, recursive lyricism. Like Nietzsche or Plath, Bang flouts naysayers; luridly alive, she drives deep into aporia, her new, sad country. Her stanzas, sometimes spilling, sometimes severe, perform an uncanny death-song, recklessly extended—nearly to the breaking point.[1]

David Orr writes:

This is perhaps why Mary Jo Bang largely succeeds in her new book of elegies for her son, called, simply enough, “Elegy.” Bang’s previous four collections are polished and frequently interesting, but they also contain more than their share of overwrought and overthought poetry about poetry....That can’t be said of “Elegy.” This is a tightly focused, completely forthright collection written almost entirely in the bleakest key imaginable. The poems aren’t all great, some of them aren’t even good, but collectively they are overwhelming — which is both a compliment to Bang’s talent and to the toughness of mind that allowed her to attempt this difficult project in the first place.[3]


External links[edit]