KIRKUS REVIEW on What God do We Honor Here?

What God final coverI feel very touched and honored with the first published review of What God is Honored Here? by Kirkus Review.


A profound collection reflecting the contributors’ “claim on [their] lives as indigenous women and women of color who have experienced infant and fetal loss, in its many forms.”

Though each piece of this collection—edited by Gibney (See No Color, 2015) and Yang (The Song Poet: A Memoir of My Father, 2016, etc.)—shares the common theme of infant mortality, each woman’s story grips readers with its individuality and its gut-wrenching pain and sorrow. These tales of loss—from miscarriage, stillbirth, misdiagnosis, ectopic pregnancies, and sudden infant death—all carry the weight of the woman’s heartbreak. They also show abundant love and the honor they felt to be pregnant, regardless of the outcome. Some tales are straightforward and read like a medical history while others ponder the spirituality of life and death. Some women still sense the movement of their child inside them, even after having other children.

Read complete review here>>

Chile 1973


I am very grateful and feel honored to Balkan Press for publishing my poem “Chile 1973” in their 2019 anthology “Justifying The Margins”.

“In this issue, our writers explore the need for “Justifying The Margins.” Justifying behavior carries a negative connotation. Justification has become synonymous with excusing behavior, resulting in an angry backlash. Too many examples of perpetrators escaping punishment, often for horrific crimes. permeate our news feeds. Outrage is growing. We cannot tolerate violence or hatred against our fellow earthlings any longer. We cannot allow the suffering of one group for the benefit of another. Not for any reason, excuse, or justification.But in this issue, we’re not justifying behavior. We’re justifying the margins—a term with an entirely different meaning for writers and editors. Not left. Not right. Not centered.Justified.”

– Editor Balkan Press

Chile 1973

As I dream of horses running wild across the river

and dolphins swimming by my window,

they vanish into sirens of silence.


Soldiers march

through the muted streets of Valdivia

guarding “égalité” with machine-guns to protect

their brothers

from those on the list;

the black list with my name

written in blood ink.


Continue reading in your Conclave Issue 2019

The Dentist

Growing Older in the Shadow of Colonialism

I feel extremely touched in my soul and grateful to for publishing The Dentist, a story from my family based on real events.

Content Warning: This story depicts a scene of sexual assault.

“The Unknown Woman, according to Carl Jung, represents the personification of the feminine nature of a man’s unconscious. She is an archetype of all the ancestral experiences of the female. She represents the tension our modern society feels as the feminine aspect of our  collective psyche strives to regain the balance humanity once had between themselves and nature. It is a calling to return to the primitive human attitude that is always on the alert to the unknown powers that guide one’s life.

“The feminine is now calling from behind the veil of our senses and our thinking. She is attempting to go beyond words of mere lip service to how to solve the problems of our time. She urgently seeks positive action towards global unification and a sincere re-connection to what it means to be human: compassionate, tolerant, mindful, heartful, and connected to the deeper wisdom of spirit.”

Stephen Linsteadt, artist

• • •

“Muty,” as I kindly called my grandmother, “I’ll take you to see the dentist; you can’t eat and that infection is poisoning your blood.”

She pretended she didn’t hear me and kept watering her potted flowers. She was trying to avoid the truth of what she knew would happen. She had only one bottom tooth left, right in the middle, wiggling and surrounded by inflamed, painful gums. All the others had fallen out—all but this one, hanging to a string of hope.

Like most women living on the wet land of southern Chile, my grandmother had lost one tooth shortly after the birth of each of her children. For the rest of her life, even into her ripe years, the remainder of her teeth had stayed strong and beautiful. Until. Until the night of the infernal attack. On that unforgettable night, she lost many, many more.

Continue reading

What God Is Honored Here?

What God final cover

I am very honored to be part of this incredible and profound anthology “What God do We Honor Here?” It is a compelling selection of poems and short stories of women, who suffered infant loss and miscarriage. “What God is Honored Here?” brings women together to speak to one another about their traumas and tragedies of womanhood. The writing offers insight, comfort, and hope for all those who, like the women gathered here, have found grief a lonely place.  It is about a form of resurrection, what it means to reclaim life in the face of death.

I am truly humbled for the opportunity to share my personal short story “Not Everything is a Patch of Wildflowers” among these powerful women writers. And, I am very grateful to the editors Shannon Gibney and Kao Kalia Yang, and the University of Minnesota Press for embarking on this unique and healing anthology

You can already order your copy here:

What God Is Honored Here?
Writings on Miscarriage and Infant Loss by and for Native Women and Women of Color
Shannon Gibney and Kao Kalia Yang, Editors

What God Is Honored Here? is the first book of its kind—and urgently necessary. This is a literary collection of voices of Indigenous women and women of color who have undergone miscarriage and infant loss, experiences that disproportionately affect women who have often been cast toward the margins in the United States of America.

From the story of dashed cultural expectations in an interracial marriage to poems that speak of loss across generations, from harrowing accounts of misdiagnoses, ectopic pregnancies, and late-term stillbirths to the poignant chronicles of miscarriages and mysterious infant deaths, What God Is Honored Here? brings women together to speak to one another about the traumas and tragedies of womanhood. In its heartbreaking beauty, this book offers an integral perspective on how culture and religion, spirit and body, unite in the reproductive lives of women of color and Indigenous women as they bear witness to loss, search for what is not there, and claim for themselves and others their fundamental humanity. Powerfully and with brutal honesty, they write about what it means to reclaim life in the face of death.

Editors Shannon Gibney and Kao Kalia Yang acknowledge “who we had been could not have prepared us for who we would become in the wake of these words,” yet the writings collected here offer insight, comfort, and, finally, hope for all those who, like the women gathered here, have found grief a lonely place.

Shannon Gibney is a writer, educator, activist, and the author of See No Color, a young adult novel that won the Minnesota Book Award in Young People’s Literature. She is faculty in English at Minneapolis College, where she teaches writing. She has been a Bush Artist and McKnight Writing Fellow. Her critically acclaimed novel Dream Country follows more than five generations of an African-descended family as they crisscross the Atlantic, both voluntarily and involuntarily.

Kao Kalia Yang is author of The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir, winner of two Minnesota Book Awards and a finalist for the PEN USA Award in Creative Nonfiction and the Asian Literary Award in Nonfiction. Her second book, The Song Poet, won a Minnesota Book Award and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Chautauqua Prize, the PEN USA Award in Nonfiction, and the Dayton’s Literary Peace Prize.

Contributors: Jennifer Baker, Michelle Borok, Lucille Clifton, Sidney Clifton, Taiyon J. Coleman, Arfah Daud, Rona Fernandez, Sarah Agaton Howes, Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, Soniah Kamal, Diana Le-Cabrera, Janet Lee-Ortiz, Maria Elena Mahler, Chue Moua, Jami Nakamura Lin, Jen Palmares Meadows, Dania Rajendra, Marcie Rendon, Seema Reza, 신 선 영 Sun Yung Shin, Kari Smalkoski, Catherine R. Squires, Elsa Valmidiano.

$19.95 paperback with french flaps

ISBN 978-1-5179-0793-8
256 pages, 5 b&w photos

October 15, 2019

Read Psychology Today interview with the authors. (Feb 25, 2020)

Early praise for WHAT GOD IS HONORED HERE?

“Miscarriage is a most enigmatic human sorrow, unique to every woman who suffers it. These stories of resilience, grief, and restoration are essential, for to understand is to heal.”—Louise Erdrich

“What God is Honored Here? is the hardest and most important book I’ve read about parenting, loss, and imagination. It’s also the most frightening book in my world, but not because it is horrific: it is about the terrifying possibilities of love.”—Kiese Laymon, author of Heavy, winner of the Andrew Carnegie Medal and finalist for the Kirkus Prize

“These writers have pierced the silence that too often surrounds miscarriage and infant loss, crafting hallowed stories from thoughtful, honest prose. As readers we are invited to witness the heart-mending love of mothers as they share memories of their lost babies, and in the telling offer solace in community.”—Diane Wilson, author of Spirit Car and Beloved Child

“To remember is an act of will and courage, an affirmation of hope and a dreamed-for life. These stories and poems, heart-rending and often traumatic, reveal the resilience that transcends the pain of loss. What God Is Honored Here? consecrates personal and collective sacrifice and contributes to the validation that is essential to adapt to and heal from significant loss.”—Susan Gibney, founder, University of Michigan NICU Hospitals Bereavement Program and Walk to Remember, MS, LLP, RN

Pittsburgh Poetry Review: “The Art of Sweeping

Pittsburgh ReviewAfter more than ten years living in the Sonoran Desert, it has showen me a great deal about two things: the winds and the dead leaves.

It is an honor to have the fifth edition of the Pittsburgh Poetry Review print my poem, The Art of Sweeping. I like to thank the editors, Jennifer, Michael, and the team of the Pittsburgh Poetry review for great editing suggestions! Thank you!!!

The Art of Sweeping


By dawn I sweep the hour

and the day under my continental rug

I sweep each word unturned

each conversation out of sight in a corner

my solitude and la Esperanza

over the desert

I sweep my cravings

and my dreams as a student

my delirium

my marriages and the rings

I sweep the nights I lay awake

underneath my bed

my grandmother’s tears

the silence of her father and the Indian she called mother

I sweep the cries with hiccups

the tours on my bicycle and the blood on my knees

I sweep the stones and seeds

under my red shoes

my small feet

covered in mud

I sweep the halls of my youth

the parties and dangerous games

dogs that bite

uniforms and the teargas in my eyes

I sweep the unzipped pants

of those who masturbate by the river

I sweep the punches of my brothers

the soup of cochayuyo and the nightly curfew

. . .

Continue reading this poem and the work of wonderful writers at the Pittsburgh Poetry Review

“The Beauty of Curved Space” – a Book Review in The Tishman Review

I am very happy and excited to share my book review published by The Tishman Review about Stephen Linsteadt’s collection of poems, The Beauty of Curved Space, inspired by the archetypal feminine:

the-beauty-of-curved-spaceThe Beauty of Curved Space
48 Poems / 83 pages
Glass Lyre Press

Stephen Linsteadt is a painter and a poet whose work is inspired by the archetypal feminine in both her physical form and her numinous overtones.

The Beauty of Curved Space, a collection of his poems, traces the curves, the joys, and challenges of painting along the inner landscapes of his struggles, dreams, and aspirations: a long and pleasant journey, a safari of untamed expectations.

Stephen’s muse is the voice of the archetypal feminine. Like Sophia, she calls from behind the veil of our everydayness, beckoning mankind to a path of self-discovery. She is always present in his studio and in his verse as he struggles to find himself below the surface of his intuitive pigment and his cerebral nature: Each line a new revelation/a mystic curve or splash.

Continue reading the full review in The Tishman Review>>

Order your copy of The Beauty of Curved Space by Stephen Linsteadt>>

Sweeping Fossils | Barriendo Fósiles

sweeping-fossils-coverI am deeply honored to have my first bilingual poetry collection “Sweeping Fossils / Barriendo Fossiles” published by Glass Lyre Press (August 2016).

Mostly, I am deeply thankful to all my many masters and teachers of lifetimes that have supported me with their guidance and insights. Sweeping Fossils is the birth of life from the arid soil of the desert.

Those interested in the language of strange birds on Jacaranda trees speaking in forgotten tongues, you will appreciate this reading!

Praise for Sweeping Fossils:

“In the exceptional geography of Sweeping Fossils, both broom and desert embody a multitude of metaphors. Its desiccated landscape invites what survives to be discerned. What thrives is the keen perception of the poet and the duality of nature and felt experience. The desert eye sees everything – the men waiting for work on the unforgiving benches, the poet in the secret labyrinth of wax. What falls is swept up. And if sweeping-fossils-backthe poem is the broom and if the bristles are the fine filter through which we observe this terrain, then we are left not only with a sharper vision of humanity but an invitation to the terra incognita of her non-physical world. There is a sensual air too, the night howls of flamenco, white linen and jasmine, a “rogue wind” that moves through the reader asking us to witness life – to look with tenderness and not turn away when the sun strips the world bare and there are no shadows in which to hide.”
Lois P. Jones, host of Poet’s Cafe, LA

“In Maria Elena B. Mahler’s poems, there is always a hungry creature under transparent leaves. She talks of 3 a.m. in a surreal language, almost a code for insomniacs who stay up waiting for her next poem. I am reminded of André Breton when she writes of a scorpion who “retreats through the pores of stars.” Her words fall from your anxious face when you stare up at a desert sky, wanting all those silences to tell you everything. Her bilingual collection, Sweeping Fossils, is a must for those dedicated to late nights and “painted fog.” Personally, I want to cross that dry river in her short poem (all her poems are short breaths of beauty) “where snakes rest and laugh at my foolishness.”
~ Russell Thorburn, author of Salt and Blood

“In Sweeping Fossils nature surprises us with startling messages that are at the same time hidden and inescapable. Maria Elena B. Mahler has the rare ability to perceive these messages and to transcribe them for us in her dreamlike poetic voice. She can “write nature.” Deserts and reeds, rivers and ants talk to us in these pages; they take us to the essence of who we are.
~ Mariano Zaro, author The House of Mae Rim

Order your copy  of Sweeping Fossils /  Barriendo Fosiles on Amazon or here>>


Red Earth Review: July 2016

red-earth-reviewDear Friends,

I like to share an excerpt of a short story of mine, “Ugly Red Shoes” (page 86), recently published by Red Earth Review (Oklahoma City University, July 2016). This story takes place in Chile in times when my country was a lot tighter than now…

I am very grateful to the editors of Red Earth Review for sharing this story with all of you!

“. . . By the time Elisa came downstairs to interrogate her, her mother’s nervous system was as raw as the lamb lying on the kitchen counter-top. She purposely dropped the knife and onions, creating a loud noise in the stainless-steel sink. Elisa stood back, aware she had stepped into something deeper than lamb stew. Her mother turned around and faced her with hands on her hips. Elisa looked below her mother’s firm breasts, afraid she might otherwise encounter a couple of blue lightning bolts.

“Maria Elisa,” calling her daughter by her full name as she did when Elisa was insolent or in trouble. “Aren’t you insistent! What did you want me to do? I had no choice!”

Elisa saw a couple of drops of water falling from her mother’s face. She was uncertain if it was sweat, tears, or from the onion.

“Do you really want to know why I made you wear those red shoes?”

Elisa nodded. Her eyes were round, filled with intrigue and surprise. She could hardly wait for the truth that so long had evaded her.

Her mother’s hands dropped from her waist. “Let’s sit for a minute and drink a máte tea.” She said exhaling a long breath. “I’ll turn the water on. Can you get the gourds and straws?”

After getting all the implements ready for their tea and putting the lamb to cook, both women sat at the round table in the corner of the kitchen. Elisa stared at her mother. She suddenly looked old as she held her face, which had almost disappeared behind her long, white hair. The only sound in the kitchen came from the pressure cooker. The steam from the pot fogged the windows and for awhile they forgot it was pouring outside.

“You were three in that picture,” Elisa’s mother went on. “It was not an easy time for us. I was twenty-three at the most, and pregnant . . . You know how I always liked to dress you with the best? All of you. In those days we bought your shoes in Calpany. Do you remember that shoe store on Picarte Street, next to the bank, close to the plaza?  . . . You probably don’t. It closed again. Anyhow, it doesn’t matter. Calpany made the best shoes in the country. They always made them out of leather and they had great support around the ankles. When Allende took over the country, he also took over Calpany, like many other factories during his regime. Calpany was forced to change their production . . . Things weren’t easy for your dad and me. We were allowed only one pair of shoes per child, per year. You were growing so fast . . .” Elisa’s mother paused as her voice began to crack. She took her eyes away from her tea and tenderly looked at her daughter.

Elisa returned a soft smile.

“Did you know your father’s lips used to swell like a couple bananas?” She burst into a nervous laugh.

Read the complete short story “Ugly Red Shoes” on page 86 and other wonderful creations and poem collection for the July 2016, yearly printed, Red Earth Review by Creative Writing MFA, Oklahoma City University.


Conclave (Spring 2016): Writing for Change

Dear Friends,

My heart is touched deeply because my short story, “The Price of Fruit,” was published by Conclave (Spring 2016). It is a true story.

I want to thank Lara Bernhardt and William Bernhardt, the editors of CONCLAVE inspiring art, literature, and the voices for change.   

This is a great opportunity to read poems and stories about change. Order your copy now and please don’t forget to leave a review after you have read it!

Thank you! Gracias. Muchas gracias!

Maria Elena

BorderSenses Literary & Arts Journal

I’m honored to have the poem “Gloria of Palenque” selected as a finalist among beautiful and poignant poems, fiction, and art for the anthology by Bordersenses, Volume 21, Fall 2015.

The juror for the poetry contest was Luis Alberto Urrea. The poetry contest winners were Natalia Trevino, Leslie Marie Aguilar, and Kate Kingston. Bravas!!!

BordersensesGloria of Palenque 
She would not give birth again 
under the palm tree roof 
of her cabaña. She would not stand 
one more day in dirt, digging,
her knuckles pitted against masa,
and watch her five children do the same.
She would not look at the only future
or her oldest son: a taxi driver 
for the small village in Palenque.
Eight times she walked across the border—
the weight of each step buried
in sand, her breath held as long as she could.

Read the entire poem and collection in Vol 21 here>>