O'Reilley, Mary Rose
O'Reilley, Mary Rose
Born in Pampa, TX. Education: College of St. Catherine, Minneapolis, MN, B.A.; University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee, M.A., Ph.D.
Educator, writer, and poet. St. Thomas College, St. Paul, MN, faculty member, including professor emerita of English, 1978—.
Walt Whitman Award, 2005, for Half Wild; also recipient of grants, including a Contemplative Studies Grant from the American Council of Learned Societies, a Bush Artist Grant, and the McKnight Award of Distinction.
The Peaceable Classroom, foreword by Peter Elbow, Boynton/Cook Publishers (Portsmouth, NH), 1993.
Radical Presence: Teaching as Contemplative Practice, Boynton/Cook Publishers (Portsmouth, NH), 1998.
The Barn at the End of the World: The Apprenticeship of a Quaker, Buddhist Shepherd (memoir), Milkweed Editions (Minneapolis, MN), 2000.
The Garden at Night: Burnout and Breakdown in the Teaching Life, Heinemann (Portsmouth, NH), 2005.
The Love of Impermanent Things: A Threshold Ecology, Milkweed Editions (Minneapolis, MN), 2006.
Half Wild: Poems, Louisiana State University Press (Baton Rouge, LA), 2006.
Mary Rose O'Reilley is a longtime English professor whose spiritual life forms the basis for most of her books, which include books on teaching and a memoir. For example, Radical Presence: Teaching as Contemplative Practice is a brief, forty-eight-page book that presents O'Reilley's sometimes radical concept of teaching based on her life as a Buddhist, Catholic, and Quaker. The author talks about essential concepts for teachers, such as being able to listen well to students and honoring students' desire to learn. Writing on the FGConnections Web site, Jean Marie Barch wrote that the author "draws us into the essence of a whole different way of looking at what can go on in the classroom."
In her spiritual memoir The Barn at the End of the World: The Apprenticeship of a Quaker, Buddhist Shepherd, O'Reilley recounts one year in her life as she tries to live "consciously." As a part of this effort, the author recounts working on a sheep farm and spending time in a Buddhist monastery in France. As the author conducts a thorough self-assessment of her life, she reveals to the reader her personal struggles with questions about her own attitudes towards life. Writing in Booklist, Patricia Monaghan called The Barn at the End of the World "a substantial contribution to spiritual autobiography." Donna Scanlon, writing on Rambles. net, noted that the author "will make you laugh and think and perhaps become more conscious of your own direction."
In her book The Garden at Night: Burnout and Breakdown in the Teaching Life, O'Reilley returns to writing about teaching and working in general as a contemplative way of life. In the process, the author discusses Buddhism and provides numerous anecdotes about the difficult times she has gone through as a teacher. "Though the book is aimed specifically at teachers, it is applicable to the workplace in general," wrote Antonia Ryan in the National Catholic Reporter.
O'Reilley won the prestigious Walt Whitman Award for Half Wild: Poems. Many of the poems in the collection focus on the natural world, including the poems "Bees in Autumn" and "Field Guide to North Shore Geology." The author also writes about modern life, culture, the soul, and death. In a review on the Spirituality & Practice Web site, Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat wrote: "There is an impressive attentiveness in all these poems." Library Journal contributor Louis McKee noted that "curiosity and quest are at the heart of her poetry."
In The Love of Impermanent Things: A Threshold Ecology, the author writes about keeping one's own identity of self while taking risks in life. In the process, O'Reilley presents a series of vignettes about nature and about her own life. Referring to The Love of Impermanent Things as a "quiet, quirky book," a Publishers Weekly contributor also wrote: "Her language is … lovely."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
O'Reilley, Mary Rose, The Barn at the End of the World: The Apprenticeship of a Quaker, Buddhist Shepherd, Milkweed Editions (Minneapolis, MN), 2000.
Booklist, April 15, 2000, Patricia Monaghan, review of The Barn at the End of the World, p. 1503.
Feminist Collections: A Quarterly of Women's Studies Resources, fall, 2003, Alice A. Keefe, review of The Barn at the End of the World, p. 12.
Library Journal, April 15, 2000, Leroy Hommerding, review of The Barn at the End of the World, p. 97; August 1, 2006, Louis McKee, review of Half Wild: Poems, p. 92.
National Catholic Reporter, April 14, 2006, Antonia Ryan, review of The Garden at Night: Burnout and Breakdown in the Teaching Life, p. 14.
Publishers Weekly, March 27, 2000, review of The Barn at the End of the World, p. 75; January 23, 2006, review of The Love of Impermanent Things: A Threshold Ecology, p. 129; April 10, 2006, review of The Love of Impermanent Things, p. 68.
Women's Review of Books, February, 2001, review of The Barn at the End of the World, p. 21.
Coldfrontmag Blog,http://reviews.coldfrontmag.com/ (May 17, 2006), Melinda Wilson, review of Half Wild.
FGConnections,http://www.fgcquaker.org/ (May 22, 2007), Jean Marie Barch, review of Radical Presence: Teaching as Contemplative Practice.
New Connexion,http://www.newconnexion.net/ (May 22, 2007), Connie Hill, "An Interview With Mary Rose O'Reilley."
Nimble Spirit,http://www.nimblespirit.com/ (May 22, 2007), Margaret Wurtele, review of The Barn at the End of the World.
Poets.org,http://www.poets.org/ (May 22, 2007), brief profile of author.
Rambles.net,http://www.rambles.net/ (May 22, 2007), Donna Scanlon, review of The Barn at the End of the World.
Spirituality & Practice,http://www.spiritualityandpractice.com/ (May 22, 2007), Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, review of Half Wild.
University of St. Thomas Web site,http://www.stthomas.edu/ (May 22, 2007), faculty profile of author.