Who I Am

Mary Ellen Lough

I am a poetry therapist & single mother living with five children in an beloved old farmhouse in southern Appalachia. I am also a world traveler, community organizer, activist, gardener, and writer.

Poetry helps me track my days by a map of joy. It breaks open the shell of each day, and allows me to find the soul of the thing pulsing inside. Poetry is how I put myself in the way of beauty, allowing myself to belong to the landscape, which came before and will remain long after I am gone. Because I think it wrecks us in all the right ways when we allow ourselves to stand at the shores of our own immensity.

I am fiercely alive, devoted to all things tender and astounding -  a woman for whom writing, and art, are inextricable from love.  When I went back to school as a 32-year-old single mother, I knew that I wanted poetry to be the center of my life, but I had no idea how. I received grants to begin teaching poetry to mothers and women with trauma, and two years later was offered a position teaching poetry to veterans with trauma under a doctor at the VA hospital. Since then, I have taught poetry to whomever was willing to show up and write : veterans, community organizers, mothers, persons experiencing homelessness or addiction, public school teachers, priests, and just ordinary folks looking for a way to express something they feel inside.

 

"There is no better companion on a porch at sunset. Mary Ellen doesn’t recount her life in dull, verbal home movies—which would be a shame given what an extraordinary life it has been so far, having lived in India, England, and countless other places; having moved through her days as a single mother of five. Instead, she speaks of these journeys and her experiences so vividly she takes you traveling with her across both continents and time. Mary Ellen will recite whole poems from memory, or call up the perfect quote to deepen the wisdom of what she’s sharing.

The result of this wisdom is evident throughout her life. Mary Ellen is not just someone who likes poetry, she’s someone who believes deeply in poetry’s transformative power, or as she wrote in the liner notes for an album of Veterans reading their work, the “sacred imagination which has the power to heal us . . ."

-Jessica Jacobs, author, In Whatever Light Left to Us & Pelvis with Distance

Poetry gives us permission to say things we otherwise wouldn't feel safe to say. It awakens our sacred imagination, which has the power to heal us. I am deeply rooted in the tradition of the Christian mystics, and draw widely from all sacred traditions in my writing and teaching.

I have trained with and written for The Institute for Poetic Medicine, and was awarded recognition as a 2016 Resilient Woman Leader of the Year by Asheville Resilient Women's foundation, and have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize in Poetry.

Work with me...

The world wants you to shine! I would love to work with you as your discover your creative path and vision for your life. Either through one-one-one sessions, joining in a workshop, or signing on to my Patreon page, make the next step in your creative healing today.