Mary Ozbolt

Poetry | University of Akron | Class of 2022

Part spell book, part subversive field guide to the body, Mary Ozbolt’s poetry collection Life Without Marrow offers a visceral glimpse at a speaker’s journey through adversity and into newfound empowerment. In these poems we are taken under the wing of a fierce female presence, and enlightened by all that she conjures and transforms.   —Mary Biddinger


About Mary

Mary Ozbolt holds a BA in AYA Language Arts and English from the University of Akron, and an MFA in Creative Writing with a focus on Poetry from the NEOMFA program through the University of Akron.  She is a two-time recipient of the Sam Ella Dukes  Memorial Prize in Poetry, and received a scholarship for the Juniper Summer Writing Institute in 2022. Mary has been published in Ashbelt, The Bind, and Wingles Dreamer’s anthology, Field of Black Roses. She worked as Poetry Editor for Rubbertop Review, served as president for the Society of Akron Graduate English Scholars, and taught English Composition at the University of Akron during her MFA. She has a son named Walter and two cats. 

Your advice to an incoming MFA student? Or the best piece of advice you received as a young writer?

Stay true to your style. Be suspicious of both positive and critical feedback in workshops. Avoid letting your ego lead you, but also hone your voice and own your work. Always be willing and able to defend your work, and if you lean too hard on your work being accepted, you will miss out on the delight of dividing your peers between scrutiny and adoration. Don’t write for anyone but yourself, but keep your audience in mind. Enjoy the process of experimentation and creativity, and give your peers joyful, but helpful feedback.  

Do you have any eccentric habits/strategies to get you started writing? What are they?

I keep notebooks everywhere. I always keep a notebook in my center console, and have about 47 million notebooks scattered around my home. I keep them stashed in the fruit basket, the junk drawer, on shelves, stuck between the bed and the wall, in every bag I own, and on all sorts of strange surfaces. Having paper and pen readily available makes it easy to jot things down when I have short free moments.