Mary Stewart Hammond has wanted to write since she was 6 years old and wrote her first novel at 7, all 9 pages of it. All poets have to do something to earn a living. This is how she got from that first 7 year-old "novel" to her first book, Out of Canaan.
Her working life began as a child TV star, appearing weekly for 4 years in her nightgown. During this time she was also a child underwear model for Sears Roebuck catalog, and was Little Miss National All Day Sucker (The All-Day Sucker was a very large lollipop; there were days when it seemed the title was a metaphor for her life, or that it that there was truth in advertising. She won all the writing contests in school and starred in all the school, and off site, dramas. She then worked as a “salesgirl” in the women’s clothing department at Smart Wear Irving Saks in Roanoke, VA, an actress on the Outdoor and Dinner Theater circuit, a secretary in the Philosophy Department at Yale where she got her PH,T (putting hubby through), a stringer for UPI, a sportswriter at the Baltimore Sun (the first woman sportswriter), an Editor/Talk Show Host at WAYE radio (the first woman in radio broadcasting since WWII), a media advisor and writer/producer for radio and TV spots for a Maryland Senatorial candidate (he lost, fortunately), a writer-producer for Culture Affairs, Maryland Public TV, and the first double-titled writer-producer woman in the wider field of national television. (John Waters was one of her cameramen. He thought he should have her job, so did the man she was engaged to be married to at the time).
She was involved in the Civil Rights Movement, and in the anti-Vietnam War movement. She considered this community service for the larger national community. For this she was called unAmerican.
When she was told she couldn't be an architect, she trained herself to be an architectural historian and served the community of Princeton by rescuing the University's and Seminary's repertoire of Victorian houses, including a Richard Morris Hunt house, from the bulldozer. For this the University received a citation from the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Some in the community thought what she was doing was disgusting. She also ran for public office and was defeated.
When she moved to NYC she worked as an interior designer at Pamela Banker Associates, later self-employed as Mary Stewart Allen Interiors, then as a property manager and designer for 30 years of a large waterfront real estate company, while publishing many poems, and receiving a 2-month fellowship from the MacDowell Colony that enabled her to finish her first award-winning book, Out of Canaan. She conducted Master Classes in poetry 4 semesters a year for 15 years, then cutting back to 2 semesters for the next 12 years while editing manuscripts for most of those 25 years. A second 2-month Fellowship to Yaddo enabled her to complete 2/3 of the second book, Entering History. While Mary Stewart (as she is called) has had a zigzag route to where she is, she has no intention of entering history anytime soon. She continues to write today. She is currently at work on a new collection of poems, and a memoir, and an epistomological memoir.
Mary Stewart Hammond’s poems have appeared in many magazines and journals including The Alaska Quarterly Review, American Poetry Review, The American Voice, The Atlantic Monthly, Barrow Street, Boulevard, Field, The Gettysburg Review, The Kenyon Review, The New Criterion, The New England Review, The New Yorker, The New York Times Book Review, The Paris Review, Ploughshares, Shenandoah, The Southern Review, The Southwest Review, The Yale Review, and have been included in many anthologies and textbooks.
Mary Stewart Hammond’s first book, Out of Canaan, published by W.W. Norton, received the Great Lakes Colleges Association's “New Writers Award for Poetry.” She has been nominated four times for a Pushcart Prize. Other awards include MacDowell Colony and Yaddo fellowships and a Writer's Community Poet-in-Residence fellowship. Her new collection of poems, Entering History, is being published by W.W. Norton in October 2016.
Mary Stewart Hammond has read and conducted workshops throughout the Midwest and the South. She lives in New York City, where she teaches master classes in poetry through the New York Writers Workshop and works privately as a consultant on book manuscripts.
Mary Stewart Hammond was the Poet-in-Residence at the Writers Community in New York and on the faculty of The Writer’s Voice of the West Side Y. She conducted master classes in poetry for 25 years under the auspices of the New York Writers Workshop. Many of her students went on to achieve admission to MFA and PhD programs, to publication in a wide spectrum of literary journals, to publication of chapbooks, as well as full collections, with awards such as the Kate Tufts Discovery Award, the Pushcart Prize, The Nation/Discovery, and the Nicholas Roerich Poetry Prize from Story Line Press, and a Guggenheim. Past students of Mary Stewart have gone on to receive many first book awards, such as the Nicholas Roerich Poetry Prize from Story Line Press, one of the largest book publication prizes in the country.
"Mary Stewart Hammond is a truly empowering teacher whose insights are magical, whose passion for the right word, discerning eye for even the smallest details, respect for the creative process, compassion for our frailties and celebration of our strengths, unfailingly inspire us to reach higher."
"Mary Stewart is an astonishing teacher. She edits and critiques poems rigorously and has the ability to pare down a poem to what is essential...She creates a safe place to bring writing, of even the most personal nature. Finally, she brings to the workshop an extraordinary intellect. It is really a privilege to study with her."
"...She is remarkable in being open to differing styles of writing and rigorous in her criticism and in upholding a high standard of artistic accomplishment..."
"I have never studied with a more gifted teacher...her guidance and critiques, always so insightful, so clear...her encouragement has empowered me..."
"Anyone who has read Out Of Canaan would relish the opportunity to study with Mary Stewart Hammond. But who could guess that she would combine the ability to write such a book with the gift for teaching poetry. How does she do it? Maybe it's her attention to the craft and line by line editing. Maybe it's her quick grasp of what the student is trying to say even when the poem is not quite there yet. Certainly it's her creation of a "safe" environment. I do know that she gets results. Her students grow. And publish. And keep coming back. What more could you ask for?"