Mary Leader practiced law for many years and served Oklahoma as Assistant State Attorney General, and later as referee for the Supreme Court of Oklahoma. She received her MFA in poetry from the Warren Wilson Program for Writers and left the law for her PhD in literature at Brandeis University.
Her first book of poems, Red Signature, won the National Poetry Series in 1996. Her second volume, The Penultimate Suitor, won the Iowa Poetry Prize in 2001. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in the Beloit Poetry Journal, American Poetry Review, Southern Review, and other journals. Her poetry has been featured on National Public Radio, both on “Weekend Edition” and on Garrison Keillor’s “Writers’ Almanac.”
She has taught at Warren Wilson, Emory University, Louisiana State University, and most recently on the MFA faculty at the University of Memphis. An Associate Professor, she offers courses in the writing and craft of poetry at the undergraduate and graduate levels.