Cresswell, Mary

Cresswell, Mary


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In Brief

Mary Cresswell is a poet and science editor. Born in Los Angeles, she moved to New Zealand in 1970. Her poetry has appeared in New Zealand, Australian, Canadian, US and UK literary journals. Janis Freegard writes, “Mary Cresswell’s poetry is an adventure playground where experiments in form and ingenious wordplay are part of the game... She’ll make you smile and she’ll make you think.”


Cresswell, Mary is a poet and science editor originally from Los Angeles.

She attended the University of California at Riverside and graduated from Stanford University in California. She lived in both Germany and Japan before settling in New Zealand in 1970. Before her retirement, she worked professionally as a freelance science editor and tech writer, including 12 years as sole-charge editor of the Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand.

A widely published poet, Cresswell’s writing has appeared in New Zealand, Australian, Canadian, US and UK literary journals. She was one of four poets who co-authored Millionaire’s Shortbread (University of Otago, 2003). Her collection of satiric verse, Nearest and Dearest, was published by Steele Roberts in 2009. The US journal Light Quarterly described Nearest and Dearest as “light verse in the high, amusing manner.” Her book Trace Fossils was published by Steele Roberts in 2011. The manuscript was runner-up for the 2008 Kathleen Grattan Award (judged by Fleur Adcock).

Fish Stories, published in 2015 by Canterbury University Press and designed in collaboration with Ilam School of Fine Arts, builds on a collection of ghazals and glosas to examine the shapes these two imported verse forms might take in English. Dr Siobhan Hodge writes for Plumwood Mountain on how Cresswell’s “exceptional poetic and scientific background come together in the technical and environmental orientations” of Fish Stories.

Field Notes, a poetry collection published by Mākaro Press in 2017, is a satiric miscellany featuring a wide variety of poetic forms and ranges from humour to haiku, from sober to slapstick.

Her most recent publication, Body Politic (The Cuba Press, 2020), features poems for nature in crisis: it illustrates species on the verge of extinction, response to a pandemic, and a belief that we ourselves are responsible for the mess we are in today.

Since 2012, Cresswell has by invitation been reviewing for poetry journals in New Zealand and Australia.


Updated June 2022.