When I hear Mary’s name I will always think of the wide beaches and clear skies of her poems.
I first saw Mary in a classroom at the City Lit, Laurie Smith’s Poetry Workshop. Mary, in her quiet way, was very knowledgeable and supportive of beginners like me. She was on the Magma Committee, which I joined later, so I witnessed her in a different context, practical and diplomatic, yet expressing strong convictions when necessary. Later I saw her more regularly at Mimi’s classes. My admiration for her grew. Over the last few years I would like to have asked her to look at my poems. Things I found out about her after she died – the beautiful house, the brilliant cook, the respected teacher – were always implicit in her poetry and criticism.
Many people will be writing about Mary’s poetry. I wanted to add something about Mary as a critic, as someone I have been in workshops with over a number of years. Mary was a wonderful appraiser of poems. Looking through some old poems I was working on in Myra Schneider’s workshop, there were Mary’s comments on them in her fine, delicate hand, and I was struck by how ‘spot on’ they were. Coming to the poems after quite a time, her judgments seemed so obvious and perceptive. There was also a generous appreciation of what she liked: she seemed to have identified the best qualities in the poems. She was always so good at getting to the heart of the poem, so clear and eloquent in expressing the poem, so clear and eloquent in expressing what she thought.
Whenever I read in our group my ear was never more attentive and eager to absorb than when Mary’s gentle yet always authoritative voice broke forth. Never a superfluous word, a point to be argued; everything precise and fitting and serving enlightenment. What a loss to us all. What more can I add beyond what has already been said, that I found her an approachable lady whose intelligence and quiet manner were as two flowers at the heart of our group.