Mary Allen is a memoir and fiction writer whose themes are spiritual and psychological healing, love, the nature of life and death, and the ways our states of consciousness intersect with our experience of reality. Her writing — and broad range of writing topics — reflect her belief that the personal and the practical, the painful and the numinous, the spiritual and the ordinary are all blended together in our lives and cannot be separated from one another without at least part of the truth being lost.
“I know of no other writer with the gifts to take the trappings of contemporary tragedy and spin from them such a bewitching and convincing tale of the redemptive magic of everyday love. Mary Allen writes like the music of a waltz, and with the vulnerable irony of a ballad – pitch-perfect, singular, and bittersweet.”
—Honor Moore, author of The Bishop’s Daughter
“A profoundly moving story about the mortality of man and the immortality of love.”
—Jo Ann Beard, author of Inzanesville
“Mary Allen raises many questions – about the nature of love, the meaning of death, and the possibility of a world beyond this one — and tries to answer them in remarkably lucid, sometimes shimmering prose.”
—Susan Allen Toth, author of Blooming: A Small Town Girlhood
Mary Allen is the author of The Deep Limitless Air: A Memoir in Pieces, to be published in May 2022 by Bluelight Press. Her literary memoir, The Rooms of Heaven, was published by Alfred A. Knopf and Vintage Books. She is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts creative writing fellowship and a Paul Engle/James Michener Fellowship and has published short work in Poets and Writers, Tiferet, Real Simple, Library Journal, The Chaos, CNN Online, and in the anthology If I Don’t Make It, I Love You: Survivors in the Aftermath of School Shootings. She has an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and has taught in the University of Iowa’s nonfiction writing MFA program, the Iowa Summer Writing Festival, and the Rhetoric Department at the University of Iowa. She currently makes a living as a writing coach and lives in Iowa City, Iowa.
Click here to read Mary Allen’s essay about the shootings in the Physics Department at the University of Iowa, published in the Little Village on the thirtieth anniversary of the shootings.
Click Here to read an award-winning essay, At the Monastery, by Mary Allen, which won first prize in Tiferet Magazine’s spiritual writing contest in 2013. Another essay by Mary Allen, The Deep Limitless Air, was one of two finalists in Tiferet’s spiritual writing contest in 2019.
Visit CNN Online for a piece by Mary Allen on being the daughter of a mother with maternal mental illness.
The Rooms of Heaven by Mary Allen was named one of the best nonfiction books in 2014 by Tin House. The editor described the book as “compressed and faceted, artfully made and delivered, and deeply affecting.”