Server Maintenance

MOBIUS borrowing and lending services are temporarily suspended. Learn more.

Mary Jo Bang

Mary Jo Bang is an American poet. Born in Waynesville, Missouri, Bang grew up in Ferguson and graduated from McCluer High School. She received a BA and an MA in Sociology from Northwestern University, a BA in photography from the Polytechnic of Central London, and an MFA in creative writing from Columbia University.

Bang is the author of several books of poems, including Apology for Want (1997), which received the Katherine Bakeless Nason Prize and the 1998 Great Lakes Colleges Association New Writers Award. Mary Jo Bang’s other titles include Louise in Love (2001); The Downstream Extremity of the Isle of Swans (2001); The Eye Like a Strange Balloon (2004); Elegy (2007), which won both the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Alice Fay di Castagnola Award; The Bride of E (2009); Inferno (2012); The Last Two Seconds (2015); and A Doll for Throwing (2017).

Bang has received numerous honors and awards for her work, including fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the Bellagio Foundation, a Hodder Fellowship from Princeton University, and a Berlin Prize residential fellowship from the American Academy in Berlin. She has received a “Discovery”/The Nation award, a Pushcart Prize, and her poems have been included in multiple editions of The Best American Poetry. Her work has appeared in numerous periodicals, including New Republic, Yale Review, Boston Review, Paris Review, Columbia, Denver Quarterly, Ploughshares, Kenyon Review, Harvard Review, Nation, Notre Dame Review, Paris Review, Tin House, New Yorker, and New American Writing.

Bang was the poetry co-editor of the Boston Review from 1995 to 2005. Mary Jo Bang is currently a professor at Washington University in St. Louis.

The Mary Jo Bang Papers

The Mary Jo Bang Papers consist largely of her own manuscript materials, including drafts of individual poems, book reviews, essays, introductions, and translations, as well as editorial material for her published and unpublished books. Also included are personal journals, college work, artwork, printed materials, and ephemera. A substantial amount of personal and business correspondence is present, primarily with friends, family, editors, students, and colleagues in the literary community.

Finally, the Bang Papers include a large assortment of material relating to Bang’s work outside of writing including editorial work for the Boston Review, teaching, conferences and readings, consolations and advisory boards, fellowships, residencies, exhibitions, and photography.

Related Collections in the Modern Literature Collection

  • William Steinmann Collection of Mary Jo Bang Papers | This Collection consists mainly of correspondence from Bang to Steinmann, a high school sweetheart of Bang’s at McCluer High School in Florissant, Missouri. Also included are additional correspondence from relatives and mutual friends, poetry drafts by Bang, photographs, and McCluer High School memorabilia.


Collections, Access, and Scholarly Communications
Special Collections Department
Job Title
Phone Number
(314) 935-5495