Montana. High summer. A sky you could strike a match on.
Melinda Mueller reading What the Ice Gets at Dulwich College, Ernest Shackleton's alma mater.
Melinda Mueller is a poet, biologist, and high school science teacher. Mueller was born in Montana, and raised there and in Eastern Washington. She has lived in Seattle, Washington, since 1972.
Mueller majored in Botany at the University of Washington, while also attending poetry workshops taught by the late Nelson Bentley. She earned a Masters Degree in Biology at Central Washington University. She teaches Biology and other science courses at Seattle Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Mueller is available for readings.
Publications in print
"Unsettling the stories of thirty-two historic Marys, the poems in Mary’s Dust startlingly reconfigure what we thought we knew about confinement and loss, liberation and love. With their variety of inventive and traditional forms, these poems offer testament to the strength of women creating their own narratives.
This book includes a digital download featuring commissioned music by cellist Lori Goldston. Her response, Cello Songs for Mary’s Dust premiered at the Chapel Performance Space on February 23, 2017. Our recording is from that evening. The download (available via password received with each book order) also includes Ms. Mueller reading over thirty minutes of selections from the book."
The air before her congealed
and became the angel, blazing.
Its robes streamed and whirled
in a wind that filled her ears.
Through its transparent form
she could see the brown hills
and stunted trees beyond, magnified
and trembling like flames.
She could not have told
what was said. That story was
conceived years later, by men
who had not been there.
Afterwards the stirred dust
settled round her feet with a faint
ringing, as if it were the dust
of a thousand bells.
"The After is a single poem 'sorrowing the world' we will alter and leave unseen. A meditation on extinction and the anthropocene, it blends science and poetry with the urgency of heartbreak.
Interspersed with the poem is the stunning subarctic art of Karinna Gomez, a printmaker currently teaching in Alaska, all presented in full color.
The book ships with a CD with music by the Seattle experimental jazz duo, Syrinx Effect (Kate Olsen and Naomi Siegel), commissioned for The After. We are pleased to also present the author reading her work, adding a dimension unusual in current poetry publishing."
Whether the world is
just not quite fatal
hangs on such fine threads.
The shooting-star primrose
gives forth pollen when a bee
hovers before its flowers,
thorax buzzing at 400 Hz.
Absent a G-sharp hum,
absent such a bee,
the shooting-star fails
". . . This is the poem as survival thriller, impossible to put down."—Booklist
"Blending historical, scientific, and literary scholarship with an impressive range of poetic forms, Melinda Mueller masterfully brings us the legendary tale of Sir Ernest Shackleton's Trans-Antarctic Expedition. What the Ice Gets is an adventure story, a requiem, and a love poem written to twenty-eight heroes and the mythic landscape they set out to explore but that instead explored them."
What the Ice Gets received the Washington State Book Award in 2001.
"More than how you look, 'tis what
you see that changes most.
The first time I saw trees again,
they looked to me like green ghosts."
- Banner photo, Glacier National Park, Montana: Melinda Mueller
- Author photo: Gayle Pearl