Mary Norbert Körte

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Mary Norbert Körte
OccupationPoet, teacher, activist

Mary Norbert Körte (born 1934) is an American poet associated with the Beat movement. A former Catholic nun from the San Francisco area, in the 1960s she became a poet, teacher and social activist. Her published work includes several volumes of poetry.[1]

Körte grew up in the hills near Oakland and Berkeley east of San Francisco Bay. At the urging of her family, she became a nun in 1952 when she entered the St. Rose Convent in San Francisco and became Sister Mary Norbert. Influenced by readings by Allen Ginsberg and others at the Berkeley Poetry Conference in 1965, she began to write poetry and to assist poor poets living in Haight-Ashbury. The Beat poet David Meltzer helped get her first book of poetry, Hymn to the Gentle Sun, published in 1967. As her secular and religious interests diverged, she left the convent in 1968 and moved to Berkeley to take a job as a secretary in the psychology department at the University of California, Berkeley. There she became friends with the poet Denise Levertov. Nominated by Levertov,[1] Körte was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts grant in 1969.[2] In 1972, she moved again, becoming caretaker of woodland property near Mendocino in northern California. She eventually bought the property, supporting herself by teaching at a nearby reservation school. She continued to write poetry, and she became active in the environmental movement, including Save the Redwoods.[1]

River Campus Libraries at the University of Rochester in New York holds a collection of 10 boxes of Körte's personal papers. They include correspondence, manuscripts, works by other authors, biographical documents, and other material.[3]


  • Hymn to the Gentle Sun (1967)
  • The Beginning Is the Life, Is the Word (1967)
  • Beginning of Lines: Response to "Albion Moonlight"  (1968)
  • The Generation of Love, (1969)
  • My Day Was Beautiful, How Was Yours?" and "The Going"  (1969)
  • A Breviary in Time of War (1970)
  • The Midnight Bridge (1970)
  • Mammals of Delight: Poems, 1972–1977 (1978)


  1. ^ a b c Knight, Brenda (1996). "Mary Norbert Körte: Redwood Mama Activist". Women of the Beat Generation: The Writers, Artists and Muses at the Heart of a Revolution. Berkeley, California: Conari Press. pp. 257–67. ISBN 978-1-57324-138-0.
  2. ^ "Mary Norbert Koerte". Contemporary Authors Online. Gale. 2001. Retrieved September 23, 2019.
  3. ^ "Mary Norbert Korte Papers". University of Rochester. 2018. Retrieved September 26, 2019.