My Father's Eyes: Read about it here!
Mary Bonina grew up in Worcester, Massachusetts. For two years after college, she was a VISTA volunteer for a housing code enforcement agency, serving low-income and poor residents of the city. She has worked as a community organizer; hotel cook; event planner; teacher of English in public schools, banks, hospitals and businesses; creator and director of a library literacy program; writer and editor for community news and arts publications; and for several years, she marketed energy conservation programs as an advocate and the director of a government program.
Bonina now works full-time as a writer who gives readings of her own work and offers library, school, conference, and event presentations and workshops on writing memoir and poetry. She earned her M.F.A. in Fiction at the Warren Wilson Program for Writers.
She is the author of My Father’s Eyes: A Memoir (2013), and two collections of poetry--Living Proof (2007) and Clear Eye Tea (2010)—all published by Cervena Barva Press. In collaboration with Paul Sayed, she wrote the poems “Grace in the Wind,” the inspiration for his composition of the same title, written for piano, cello, and soprano. She also collaborated with Sculptor B Amore for "Breath and Matter." Bonina and Amore were one of 24 sculptor-artist/poet pairs exhibiting at the Boston Sculptors Gallery.
Bonina’s poetry has been published in English Journal, The Lowell Review, MER Journal, Salamander, Hanging Loose and many other journals. Her poems are also featured in the anthologies City River of Voices (West End Press, New Mexico, 1992), Voices of the City (Rutgers University Center for Ethnicity, Culture, and the Modern Experience with Hanging Loose Press, 2004), Vacations: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (Outrider Press, Chicago, 2007), and Entering the Real World: VCCA Poets on Mt. San Angelo (Wavetree Press, 2011)--work by Virginia Center for the Creative Arts fellows.
She writes fiction as well, and her debut novel, My Way Home, is making the rounds for publication. Bonina's chapbook, Lunch in Chinatown, will be published by Cervena Barva Press in Spring 2024, and a new full-length collection is also now ready for submission.
Bonina was winner of UrbanArts "Boston Contemporary Authors" prize for her poem, “Drift,” which is engraved on a granite monolith, a permanent public art installation outside Green Street Station on the MBTA Orange Line. Her chapbook, Lunch in Chinatown, poems inspired by the experience of teaching English to immigrants in their work places, was a finalist for a competition sponsored by The Teacher’s Voice: A Journal for Poets and Writers in Education. A Boston City Hall exhibition—“375 Views of Boston”—in celebration of the 375th anniversary of the City, featured her poems alongside the work of other poets and writers, painters, photographers, and sculptors.
Excerpts from My Father’s Eyes: A Memoir were published in Gulf Stream, Hanging Loose, and the Zingology anthology, Power. “Going Away,” excerpted from the memoir, won Honorable Mention in the University of New Orleans Study Abroad Contest.
Mary Bonina has been awarded fellowships and residencies at the Vermont Studio Center, and she is a fellow of the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, in residence several times since 2002 when she was the finalist for the Goldfarb Family fellowship. She was awarded a VCCA-France residency at Moulin a Nef in Auvillar, France.
Bonina is a member and, for more than a decade, served on the Board of Directors of the Writers Room of Boston. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts with her husband, Mark Pawlak.