Originally from Egypt, Mary Silwance lives in Kansas City and is a mother of three daughters. She has been an English teacher, Farm to School Coordinator, environmental educator, and farmhand. Mary provides writing workshops and serves on the editorial team of Kansas City Voices. She also explores ecology from an intersection of justice and spirituality in workshops and writing. While her poetry and essays appear in numerous publications, you can find her work, chapbooks, radio, zoom presentations, and workshop offerings at marysilwance.com. When not writing, you can find Mary gardening, hiking, thrifting, or planning her off-grid village.
Who are some poets you enjoy reading?
In terms of poetry, the poet I've had the longest relationship with is ee cummings. Lately, I've been immersing myself in Joy Harjo and Mary Oliver and am captivated by the work of Maram al Massri. A poem that I love reciting is John Murillo's Upon Reading That Eric Dolphy Transcribed Even the Calls of Certain Species of Birds. There's something about the details, composition, and cadence that I learn something new from each time I recite it. And because I attended a presentation by Jennifer Chang at the Breadloaf Environmental Writers' Conference in 2019, I have an affection for her work. What kind of music is your style?
I have an eclectic musical palette ranging from Pink Martini to Sly and the Family Stone to Pink Floyd to Chopin to Les Nubians to Erykah Badu to Pearl Django to Janelle Monet. What about films? What do you love to watch?
I don't have a favorite film currently but throughout my teens and twenties, Harold and Maude was my favorite. Around Oscar season, I always attend the screenings of Oscar-nominated animated shorts from around the world. As a poet and writer, I'm fascinated by how much a story can be packed so efficiently and gracefully in so little time. And although I despise violent movies, I am curiously mesmerized by Mad Max Fury Road. I tend toward foreign films and the bizarre. One quirky film that stands out at this moment is The Lobster. I'm also a big fan of documentaries and a couple of my favorites are Honeyland about a female beekeeper in Macedonia and The Secret Life of Water. Where can we hear you perform your poetry?
Here's what's coming up for me this summer:
Would you tell us about your call for artists and poets?
In partnership with Flying Ketchup Press, I've been able to put out a call for poets, writers, and artists! Submit poetry, art, or short prose to our 2024 anthology project. For the past seven years, I’ve posted daily on Women’s History Month from international articles I curate all year. From that grew the inspiration for "Our Own Accord" a collection that I hope will open up the door to narrative on the experience of women's embodied lives. Send us work that shares both significant and quotidian milestones in your own voices. This collection will bring needed geography and legend, a fem-centric lexicon, to the educational, religious, political, societal, and policy conversations regarding the often invisibilized lives of those who identify as female. The words of Adrienne Rich convey the gap in lyrical conversation that we'd like to address:
“Women have been driven mad, gaslighted, for centuries by the refutation of our experience and our instincts in a culture which validates only male experience. The truth of our bodies and our minds has been mystified to us. We therefore have a primary obligation to each other: not to undermine each others' sense of reality for the sake of expediency; not to gaslight each other. Women have often felt insane when cleaving to the truth of our experience. Our future depends on the sanity of each of us, and we have a profound stake, beyond the personal, in the project of describing our reality as candidly and fully as we can to each other.”
As you may know, there will also be a community outreach portion to Of Our Own Accord. We aim to collaborate with an entity that focuses on a femme-centric issue in two ways. One, invite those served by the agency to create art reflective of their experiences that can be submitted to the anthology, and two, participate in an online or live reading and possible exhibit during the anthology launch event. Please reach out to me if you want to participate, have questions, and or have connections with entities that might be interested in this project.
Tell us about the KC Poetry Jam. What is it?
Ketchupedia (the outreach of Flying Ketchup Press that helps writers connect with each other and catch up on their creative practice) is sponsoring a one-day festival for everyone on the poetic spectrum. Our goal is to connect through workshops, a panel discussion on technology and publishing, time for networking and sharing books, as well as showcase some exciting featured readers. Because it is important to me in my poetic practice to create space for new voices, we intend to partner with colleges, literacy groups, and high schools to also invite those interested in dipping their toes into poetry for the first time. While Poetry Jam itself will be hosted by Englewood Arts Center, we hope to partner with established poets to lead open mics around town after our jam session. We'll have tickets available soon. Save the date! Saturday, September 30th, 11 am to 5 pm.
Thanks, Mary, for telling us more about your poetry and your upcoming events, readings, and projects. We are so excited to have you with us this year at Flying Ketchup Press!!
Upcoming Poetry and Short Fiction Collections by Flying Ketchup Press.
Thanks for your submissions. Our jurors are reading!
Path of Birds Poetry and Art Anthology on June 24th, 2023- Live Reading!
Sprouts Meditations: Artists, Poets & Writers, July 2023
Universe in a Bottle: Tales from Time Anthology October 2023
Halloween Clock: Tales on the Hour October 2024- edited by John Waterfall
Of Our Own Accord: Women's Poetry Anthology 2024- edited by Mary Silwance
Flying Ketchup Press ® founded in 2018 to champion new and diverse voices in short fiction and poetry. Our dream, to share worlds of wonder and delight.
Ketchupedia. To empower new and diverse voices in Kansas City's regional poetry. Making room for poetry opens space for personal narrative; empowers, heals, and unites diverse audiences.