Mary Catherine Harper receives state award for poetry

May 22, 2018

DEFIANCE, Ohio - Defiance College Professor of English Mary Catherine Harper has been named a recipient of an Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award for selections from three poetry collections: Leave the Casket Open, which provides poetic structure to the emotional energies of grief; Pulling Wings Off Onions, a series of linked poems that hold the generations of a family in formal ironic tension; and Spelunking for Persephone, which offers a contemporary telling of an ancient myth, focusing on themes of desire and distance in relationships.

OAC Individual Excellence Awards recognize the exceptional merit of an Ohio artist's past body of work and celebrate the creativity and imagination that exemplify the highest level of achievement in a particular artistic discipline.

A native of Kansas, Harper has made her home at the confluence of the Auglaize and Maumee rivers in Ohio, where she writes poetry and teaches literature and writing at Defiance College. She co-organizes the yearly SwampFire Retreat for artists and writers at 4 Corners Gallery in Angola, Ind., where the potter Steve Smith provides workshops for a cross-media experience.

In 2017, Harper was appointed President of the Executive Advisory Council of the Society for the Study of Midwestern Literature (SSML). Her poem “Muddy World” won the 2013 Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Prize given by SSML, and her poetry has appeared in numerous journals, including The Comstock Review, Cold Mountain Review, Pudding Magazine, Old Northwest Review, SLAB, MidAmerica, Print-Oriented Bastards, Sheila-Na-Gig, and The Offbeat. Her Some Gods Don’t Need Saints chapbook was recently published. See or

Defiance College, chartered in 1850, is an independent, liberal arts-based institution in Northwest Ohio offering more than 40 undergraduate programs of study as well as graduate programs in education and business. Defiance College has received national recognition for its educational experience of service and engagement. The college website is