Melinda Mueller

Montana. High summer. A sky you could strike a match on.

--The After

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.

Contact Melinda Mueller.

Upcoming Events

Northwest Micropress Fair

Book signing at 4:00 PM

Reading with other authors at the "After Party," 9 PM

The Cleaners at the Ace Hotel

403 SW 10th Ave, Portland, Oregon 97205

Thousands of Silences Fell: Review of Mary's Dust. Joannie Strangeland. Poetry Northwest, April 6, 2018.

Interview in The Coil about "botany, collaboration, research, discovery, and her latest collection of poetry, ‘Mary’s Dust.’"

Reader board for Dec 12, 2018 reading. Some opening act!

Publications in print

Cover art ("Absence Adorned: Reclining Dress Impression with Drapery") and end-papers ("Sartoriotype: Incidence, Dress") by Karen LaMonte.

Available from Entre Rios Books. Book order will include a password giving access to the digital download.

"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

of progeny.

"Sleeping reindeer" by Karinna Gomez, included in The After.

Available from Entre Rios Books.

Originally published by Van West & Company, now available from Eastern Washington University Press.

". . . 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."

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Earlier publications

  • Apocrypha. Grey Spider Press. Mount Vernon, Washington. 1998.
  • Asleep in Another Country. Jawbone Press. Seattle, Washington. 1979.
  • Private Gallery. Seal Press. Seattle, Washington. 1976.

Contact Melinda Mueller or Open Books: A Poem Emporium for copies of Apocrypha or Asleep in Another Country.

Photo credits:

  • Banner photo, Glacier National Park, Montana: Melinda Mueller
  • Author photo: Gayle Pearl