The Virginia G. Piper
Center for Creative Writing

Home / Writers / Mary Sojourner
Photograph of Mary Sojourner

Mary Sojourner

Piper Writers Studio Instructor 2019
Desert Nights, Rising Stars Faculty 2017

About Mary Sojourner

Mary Sojourner's latest short story collection, The Talker, was published by Torrey House Press 2017. She's published three novels: Sisters of the Dream, Going Through Ghosts and 29; the short story collection, Delicate, essay collection, Bonelight: Ruin and Grace in the New Southwest, Bonelight: rituals of loss and desire; two memoirs, She Bets Her Life and Solace. She was chosen as a Distinguished Writer in Residence in 2007 by the Virginia C. Piper Center for Creative Writing at Arizona State University. She teaches at writing conferences throughout the Southwest, including the Desert Nights, Rising Stars Writers Conference; and has taken part in residencies throughout America. Find more about Sojourner at

Find Classes with Mary Sojourner

Date: Saturday, September 21, 2019, 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Type: Generative Workshop
Genre: Creative Nonfiction, Essays, Fiction, Hybrid

Too often, the belief that something is forbidden or unthinkable forms a writer's impenetrable blocks. Contemporary culture and media might lull us into thinking that nothing is forbidden or unthinkable. Quite the opposite is true. Clearly, the forbidden and the unthinkable are different for each writer. This generative workshop is designed to enable participants to bring out that which they may have kept hidden. We will write into the material which we fear, the perhaps unexplored stories which, in fact, we long to write.

More About Mary Sojourner

Thieme, Emma. "An interview with Mary Sojourner, on her short story collection The TalkerMatador Network, April 25 2017.

When I was around ten, the expanding Kodak and Xerox industries needed housing for their workers — and much of the countryside was developed and, consequently destroyed. The creeks, the rolling hills, the wildlife habitat were gone. I became a child without most of her home. At the same time, my mother was suffering periodic bi-polar psychotic episodes. She tried to kill herself at least four times in my childhood. I turned to reading. And I became a careful observer of my mother’s moods. All of this was training in finding the stories under the pain and the details that made up the stories.

Adler, Jake. "An Interview with Mary SojournerSuperstition Review, November 2, 2011.

Either drop out of school right now or plan to do so once you graduate. Resist the pressure and impulse to get an advanced degree. Apprentice yourself to your creativity. Let it map your route. You – unless you have a trust fund – can plan on being poor, scared, frustrated. You might, if you’re lucky, find yourself walking the blade of an obsidian knife. Howling. Laughing. Being grateful for every breath you take.

She added:

“Those who have the privilege to know have the duty to act.” — Albert Einstein. Make beauty. Make change. Make trouble for the settled and secure.

"The Talker ReviewPublisher's Weekly. January 23, 2017.

If you ever wondered what life is like for the down and out, the remarkable Sojourner lays it out in precise and unsparing prose in her latest collection of short stories. Throughout, Sojourner's ability to bring extraordinary characters to life and bring depth and heart to ordinary circumstances makes this collection memorable.

Kingsley, Amy. "Author Sojourner Takes On Big Solar in '29'Nevada Public Radio, October 16, 2014.

Long-time Arizona resident and author Mary Sojourner is familiar with the barren desert lands so many of us call home. In her latest novel, "29," competing interests come to a head as rural America opposes big solar development near the town of Twentynine Palms.

Drawing her stories from those in her own 74 years of existence, Sojourner is a student and teacher of literature. In the case of "29," a multinational company plans a utility-scale solar on the site of the sacred Salt Song Trail.

A group of Native Americans and scrappy town residents -- including Nell, a corporate refugee, and Monkey, a dope-smoking mechanic -- stand in the way.

Sojourner tells KNPR about the heroes of the book, explaining how their lives intertwine with one another and the desert southwest.