The initial inspiration for writer Mary Mackey’s poetry came from an unexpected place: the brink of death. As a child, she experienced life-threatening fevers that brought her temperature up to nearly 107 degrees. She credits those hazy moments with her first poetic thoughts.
“A fever that high does something strange to your brain,” she says. “I believe this was the moment I was given the gift of poetry.”
Earlier this month, that gift earned her the 2019 Eric Hoffer Book Award for Best Book Published by a Small Press. The award-winning collection of poetry, “The Jaguars That Prowl Our Dreams: New and Selected Poems 1974 to 2018” includes pieces from throughout her career. Drawing on inspiration from her travels, as well as her fevers, the second half of the book is an exploration of the tropical jungle—the tangible ones, and those internal ones within us.
Mackey joins Insight to talk about her inspiration, her work and the Eric Hoffer Book Award.