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Book Talk: Mary Mackey wins the Pen Oakland award and reads at the Sacramento Poetry Center

Sugar Zone wins the 2012 PEN Oakland-Josephine Miles Award for Excellence in Literature

Mary Mackey will receive the PEN Oakland-Josephine Miles Award for excellence in literature for her 2011 book, "Sugar Zone," on Saturday, Dec. 1 at the Oakland Public Library, Rockridge branch. The public is welcome at the event which runs from 2 – 5 p.m. and includes a reception and book signing.

Mackey will be closer to home in Sacramento on Monday, Nov. 26 at 7:30 p.m. for a reading at the Sacramento Poetry Center. She’ll likely speak about the upcoming award that she says is “one of the best things that can happen to a writer in terms of being acknowledged as a serious writer, as a contributor to American literary culture.” And she’ll read from her collection, "Sugar Zone."

Mackey released her book, “Sugar Zone,” (Marsh Hawk Press) in 2011, and it was short-listed for the Northern California Book Awards earlier this year. It is this book, which blends Portuguese and English into a collection of poems that can be enjoyed on several levels, that won her the PEN Oakland-Josephine Miles Award.

She has travelled to Latin America every year since she was twenty-one, and for six years, she lived on and off in the rain forest, and she has travelled to Brazil, about which she spoke.

“Brazil is becoming a major player in the world, economically,” she said. They produce ethanol in very large quantities. They are fuel and food efficient, and in last eight years they cut the desperate poverty rate from 38 to 16 percent.”

Brazil is the setting of the poems in “Sugar Zone,” and Mackey is the guide for her readers. Her ear for language, and her ability to place Portuguese and English side by side add a richness that make this collection one to return to. The poems should be read aloud, to hear the beauty of the sound, and Mackey will certainly read from this book at her appearance at the Sacramento Poetry Center on Monday, Nov. 26 at 7:30 p.m.

The Sacramento Poetry Center is located at 1719 25th Street., Sacramento, CA, and the event is free.

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