Mary – A Life in Verse by Patricia Monaghan


“Patricia Monaghan’s Mary, “brings us a new Mary, a Mary for the world and for the ages, who stretches beyond the limits of the Christian story and partakes of something far more ancient, larger, and more glorious: Mary as a woman, and a goddess.” —Annie Finch


  • Kind: Perfectbound
  • Pages: 94
  • Language: English
  • Published: November, 2014
  • ISBN:  978-1-939929-08-2


“This remarkable, absorbing, and quietly revolutionary book constitutes the greatest poetic work and ultimate legacy of the legendary Patricia Monaghan, whose towering work as a scholar, writer, and organizer, breathtaking in its scope and ambition, brought the Goddess into women’s lives over many decades. A farewell gift to the world from the deep soul of this brilliantly talented poet, begun in the 1980s and completed on her deathbed in 2012, Monaghan’s magnum opus offers readers the sweet and sublime fruit of an attentive and courageous spiritual life. Deceptively simple and accessible in style, Mary: A Life in Verse is nothing less than a profound and heart wrenching feminist epic.  It brings us a new Mary, a Mary for the world and for the ages, who stretches beyond the limits of the Christian story and partakes of something far more ancient, larger, and more glorious: Mary as a woman, and a goddess.”  —Annie Finch, Poet and author of Spells, Wesleyan Poetry Series, 2013

“Exquisitely written, this lengthy free verse life of Mary gives voice to the first century Jewish woman who struggles with the ongoing challenges resulting from having said “Yes” to an angel. Monaghan’s poetry offers us a Mary who experiences the ordinary and the extraordinary, as well as the heights and the depths of a grace-filled life. This work  plums the marvels of Mary’s reality of both pain and joy. It is a literary and spiritual treat.”  —Mary Christine Athans, BVM, Professor emerita, University of St. Thomas (Minn.), Author of In Quest of the Jewish Mary (NY: Orbis Books, 2013).

“Surely the angels rejoiced when Patricia Monaghan put her passionate, lyric gifts in the service of Mary’s story. When words become transparent and point the way beyond themselves, you know you are in the presence of a great poet. Here the obscure Galilean peasant woman and Queen of Heaven speak as one. In this profound and intimate life in verse, you will not only hear Mary’s voice, you will feel as though you are meeting her gaze, as though you could reach out and touch her face.” —Elizabeth Cunningham, Author of The Maeve Chronicle



To you it seems a foregone
conclusion, the obvious outcome,
the only possible answer.
Who could say no to an angel?

But there was a moment when I
hesitated. I remember a wild desire
to be left alone, to be obscure again
and safe—I wanted the angel to leave,

to find some other girl for his strange
invitation. I was frightened. I heard
a sound like fabric rending or
the tearing of flesh or a great tree

falling. And yet: I answered.
I leaned towards the angel
and, with a sound like wings,
the future was born in me.


Patricia MonaghanPatricia Monaghan passed away on November 11, 2012.  She was a Pushcart Prize awarded poet, scholar, spiritual leader, and activist. Patricia had over twenty books published including a geographic and spiritual memoir of Ireland, the Red-Haired Girl from the Bog.  She published many books of poetry and non-fiction on woman figures connected with the divine. Poetry includes The Goddess Path, The Goddess Companion, and Seasons of the Witch. Non-fiction includes Goddesses and Heroines and editing Goddesses and World Culture, a three volume set from authors the world over.

Other works of poetry include Homefront a searing collection drawn from personal experience about the effects of war on the veteran’s families and Sanctuary drawn from times in the West of Ireland and again experience about the Driftless Area of Wisconsin where Patricia lived along with her husband Michael in their land Brigit Rest and where they gardened and tended a vineyard and orchard and processed and preserved the wonders of the land.  Non-fiction includes The Encyclopedia of Irish Mythology, Meditation-The Complete Guide and Wineries of Wisconsin and Minnesota and edited Brigit, Sun of Womanhood and Irish Spirit.

Patricia finished Mary, a Novel in Verse shortly before she died.  It represented work done over years and those recently composed to finish the story.  This work reflects Patricia’s continued immersion of figures from her Irish Catholic upbringing interpreted in a less traditional framework.  Brigit, Sun of Womanhood, also reflects this immersion and deeper approach, here as saint and earlier, goddess and at present a figure of interest and devotion in many cultures around the world.

Patricia was a professor of inter-disciplinary studies at DePaul University.  She was concerned about the lack of spirituality in our society and addressed that in co-founding the Black Earth Institute composed of artists and scholars to direct art in the causes of spirituality, the environment and social justice ( Again to address this issue, this time in relation to academia, she co-founded the Association for the Study of Woman and Mythology to recognize and promote well researched work in the field and to mentor young scholars.

Patricia painted a picture of a different and often better world in her art and not content with that, she created organizations and networks to bring about that picture.  She will be missed but her work and love live on.  A full list of publications and more information about her may be found at Michael McDermott, her husband, is her literary executor and continues her work.

Additional information

Weight 8 oz
Dimensions 9 × 6 × .25 in