The Poetry of Mary K O'Melveny



Published in January 2020




is available from Finishing Line Press  









                    MERGING STAR HYPOTHESES was a Semi-Finalist

                         for The Word Works 2019 Washington Prize. 






A resonant, essential collection of poems, Merging Star Hypotheses spans the cosmos and the human heart with lyricism, wit, and evocative imagery. Few poets can take on scientific topics and intertwine them so effectively with the buzz and hum of daily life. For example, “I’ve been ruminating / about the properties / of dark anti-matter. / Or, put another way, / recent election results.” Mary K. O’Melveny has written a book of purpose and pleasure. Here at the edge of extinction, Merging Star Hypotheses serves as a battle cry and death wail at once. 


               –Charlotte Pence, author of Many Small Fires, a winner of  

                      Foreword  Reviews’ Poetry Book of the Year 



“With a powerful voice and a blend of science and hopeful heart, Merging Star Hypotheses deftly explores the wavelength between human curiosity and the stars, the coordinates of lovers, the collapsing and expanding family, the limits of distance and loss, ether to Earth. O’Melveny is always looking up, out, beyond herself and the tangible world to reconcile how we live against the deep-space unknown and the black holes of our societal differences, misunderstandings, and all we cannot calculate here.”


              –Jonathan Starke, Founding Editor of Palooka and author of 

                    You’ve Got Something Coming“



Mary K. O’Melveny’s Merging Star Hypotheses is a stunning debut full-length collection. The poet invites us into her world and immerses readers in an orbit of words that swirl, shine, and take us along an intergalactic journey. There is constant movement, poems infused with stars, planets, politics, family, as well as a stellar use of poetic forms, rich with imagery. The poet’s ability to seamlessly merge nature, politics, science, astronomy and family is impressive, unexpected and mesmerizing. There are delightful moments when science merges with politics, such as in this spot-on stanza: “I’ve been ruminating/ about the properties/of dark anti-matter./Or, put another way,/recent election results.”. In her poem ”AURORA BOREALIS,” O’Melveny’s imagery is spectacular, “I’d prefer silence as/ dawn’s goddesses stir up/ their fragrant stew spiced/ with sage, basil, cinnamon/ or sing to north winds in/ tones of topaz, ruby,/ that echo like jeweled stones/ skimming across water.” Themes, including family narratives, astronomy and politics, merge effortlessly. Family history is instructive; we learn of the author’s early ties to mathematics “My father taught me to park./A lesson in pure geometry./Mathematics determined/most of his daily moves.” Strained family dynamics is a significant theme that unifies this collection. When describing her father, the poet shares “We never liked each other much./My mother cried too often./I tried to compute the statistical relationship/between his presence or absence/and the sadness that filled our room./It was significant.” Merging Star Hypotheses is a kaleidoscope of images, revealing an exquisite prism of words. Readers of this collection will continue to revisit these poems and just as in the ending stanza of O’Melveny’s poem “THEORIES OF RELATIVITY”   “We don’t want goodbyes. / We want to bend their light.”


              –JP Howard, author of SAY/MIRROR & Winner of the 2016

                    Judith A. Markowitz Emerging Writer Award and Lambda Literary  


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