Biography

Mary Zeppa, a singer and lyricist as well as a poet and literary journalist, has been active in the Sacramento Poetry Center (SPC) since 1981. From 1984-1995, Zeppa served as Co-Editor of Poet News; she was a founding Editor (1993) of The Tule Review.  She was Executive Editor of Keepers of the Flame:  The First 30 years of The Sacramento Poetry Center (Rattlesnake Press, October 2009.)Zeppa currently hosts SPC’s Third Thursday at the Central Library Reading series and serves as the Center’s Principal Archivist

Zeppa’s interviews with artists and writers (most notably Maru Hoeber, Carl Naluai, Robert Hass, William Stafford, Diane Di Prima, Charles Wright, Sandra McPherson and Dennis Schmitz) have appeared in Poet News (1983-92), Poetry Now (1997)and Perihelion (2001).  Her interview with poet, novelist, essayist, editor and painter Clarence Major, was included in the 2002 University Press of Mississippi collection Conversations with Clarence Major; her interview with poet and translator Charles Wright was included in the 2008 McFarland collection Charles Wright in Conversation.

Zeppa’s poems have appeared in a variety of print and on-line journals, including Perihelion, Switched-on Gutenberg, Zone 3, The New York Quarterly and Permafrost, and in several anthologies; the 2009 Kent State University Press anthology Beyond Forgetting: Poetry and Prose about Alzheimer’s Disease includes two of her poems. The audio anthology Landing Signals, An Anthology of Sacramento Poets, includes Zeppa’s performance of her song, "Lost Woman Blues." She is the author of two chapbooks, Little Ship of Blessing (Poets Corner Press) and The Battered Bride Overture (Rattlesnake Press).

Zeppa has been lucky enough to share the stage with the Award-Winning Brubeck Institute Jazz Quintet at three SPC Jazz & Poetry Live events.  For 20 years, she was 1/5 of the a cappella quintet Cherry Fizz.


Reviews and Quotes

Of Little Ship of Blessing:

“I am dazzled by Mary Zeppa’s symphony of poems! They will fasten to you like a discovery of language. Sheer grace and style, from the beginning dedication to the ending “Blessing,” the words refuse to be tame or easy—so “catch the fire and shine.”
- Ann Menebroker, Poet. Her books include Biting Through The Spine, To Get It Right, Trying For The Ten Ring, Routines That Will Kill You, Walking The Dog and Tiny Teeth
“Mary Zeppa’s years of work as a vocalist shine through every poem in Little Ship of Blessing. Reading these poems is like hearing Gershwin’s music, like listening to Billie Holiday sing. Each poem flows like a melody, and when read aloud, Mary Zeppa’s poems dance off your tongue, reminding us all how beautiful language can be.”
-James Lee Jobe, Poet and Publisher. His books of poems include Dark Like My Father and What God Said When She Finally Answered. Publisher of One (Dog) Press, Wash-Dry-And-Press and Putah Creek.

Of The Battered Bride Overture:

“..despite the stark images of open-hand slaps, belt buckles and closed fists, innocence and hope inhabit every page. There is a ringing truth in these poems which brings back our own tentative steps toward love, jagged detours into pain.” -Traci L. Gourdine, Poet, Editor, Professor of English, American River College. As a poet: Shrugged Burdens. As an editor: Night Is Gone, Day Is Still Coming: Stories and Poems by American Indian Teens and Young Adults and We Beg to Differ, An Anthology for Peace
“In this compelling collection, Mary Zeppa crafts glimpses into the psychological and metaphoric realms of a troubling subject. With empathy, restraint, deft diction—and the counterpoint of a sure music—these grave and thoughtful poems illuminate, surprise, and readily invite re-reading.” -Kathleen Lynch, Poet, Essayist, Reviewer. Her books of poems include How to Build an Owl, No Spring Chicken, Alterations of Rising and Hinge
“Mary Zeppa’s book, Little Ship of Blessing..is a songbook, a hymn to the world, joyous for the most part, affirmative and optimistic…The nineteen poems in The Battered Bride Overture are from another world, ..a world of loneliness and thwarted passion, of hope squandered, diminished and modified…the(se) poems tell their stories unflinchingly…An overture is also a disclosure or discovery..and we discover that we are instructed and enlightened by these powerful poems.” -Quinton Duval, Poet. Author of Dinner Music, Joe’s Rain and Like Hay