Mary Biddinger

Poetry | University of Akron
Image of Mary Biddinger


Phone | (330) 972-6960
Email |
Web |

Recent Publications


Department of Elegy. Black Lawrence Press, January 2022.
Partial Genius: Prose Poems. Black Lawrence Press, August 2019.
Small Enterprise. Black Lawrence Press, August 2015.


Four flash fiction stories in print issue #5 of Always Crashing, including two featured online.

 “Sugar Stack, Skybaby” and “Vanish on Command” (poems) in Couplet Poetry issue 2.

“Everyone Has an Unreasonable Fear that Also Feels like a Gift” (prose poem) in Pithead Chapel, issue 11.2.

Five flash fiction stories in DIAGRAM issue 21.5.

“Antique Filament,” one of two poems published in Bennington Review issue 9.

“That Stuff is Going to Kill You” (flash fiction) in Gone Lawn, Samhain 2021 issue.

About Mary

Mary Biddinger’s latest books are Department of Elegy (2022) and Partial Genius: Prose Poems (2019), both with Black Lawrence Press. An essay collection titled A Mollusk Without a Shell: Essays on Self-Care for Writers, co-edited with Julie Brooks Barbour, is forthcoming from the University of Akron Press in Spring 2024.

Biddinger’s poems have recently appeared in numerous journals including A Dozen Nothing, Diode, and Pithead Chapel, and have been featured on Poetry Daily and The Slowdown. Flash fiction has appeared in Always Crashing, DIAGRAM, Gone Lawn, and Southern Indiana Review, among others. Biddinger has been the recipient of Individual Excellence Awards from the Ohio Arts Council, a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, and the mid-career Cleveland Arts Prize. She teaches literature and creative writing at the University of Akron, where she is chair of the English department.

Where did you grow up?
I was born in California and lived in New Jersey, Illinois, and Michigan as a kid. This makes for an interesting accent, which I have learned to subdue.

What is one of your favorite places in Akron?
You can find me at the Summit Metro Parks, looking up into the treetops.

Your best piece of advice for a beginning writer?
Two very practical things that I teach: how to create an em dash, and how to insert a page break between poems.

Do you have any eccentric habits/strategies to get you started writing? What are they?
I get ideas for writing by driving around listening to crappy classic rock from my childhood. Recently I have also tried to align my obsessive nonacademic research interests with subjects for my writing, and that is working out pretty well.

What do you secretly hope someone else will bring to a potluck?
I am always happy when there’s an option that doesn’t include copious amounts of lactose. In the Midwest, this is a big ask.

What is your AWP advice to a first-time attendee?
Do not be afraid to say make conversation with bookfair table staff. They may be just as awkward as you are. If worried about buying too many books, consider shipping them back via a postal store, rather than cramming them in luggage. Attend some of the virtual sessions—such as the streamed keynote—to give yourself downtime while participating in the conference. Also, rather than relying on restaurants, find a small grocery in the conference area and purchase some provisions.

Do you have any pets?
I have two rescue dogs—Jacques and Penelope—and three cats—Henri, Lulu, and Blanche. My dogs and cats get along well, and in my household it’s not unusual to witness multiple species sharing a couch.