About Mary

Mary B. Kurtz finds inspiration for her writing in the landscape of rural northwestern Colorado. Steeped in the land, she knows firsthand the rhythms of ranching, the certainty of life and death, and the murmurings of a natural world. It’s there, in the Elk River Valley, where she shares the intimate intersection between her conscious life and place. In that meeting, she’s moved to make note of the still of a heavy snow, the sleek gait of the elk, and the light – the crimson, the salmon, the beginning of the night.


A Voice of the Valley

“(Mary’s writing) is not only deeply felt, but deeply rooted in its place. Its density and cadence capture the weight and flow of the valley…It moves along, one thought opening to another, just as our lives and our natural world do. It is entirely authentic.”

ANN ANDERSON STRANAHAN   •   author of Window on the River

Recognized in Nonfiction

Mary’s work has appeared in Amsterdam Quarterly, The Hong Kong Review, The Colorado Sun, Ruminate Magazine, Braided Way, BlueHouse Journal, Speckled Trout Review, The Writers Workshop Review, and Ankle High, and Knee Deep: Women Reflect on Western Rural Living. Her book, Apertures: Findings from a Rural Life, is now available from Shanti Arts Publishing.

Her first collection of essays, At Home in the Elk River Valley: Reflections on Family, Place, and the West, was recognized as a 2012 Regional Nonfiction Finalist by the National Indie Excellence Book Award program. It was also the recipient of the Colorado Independent Publishers Association’s 2012 Bronze EVVY Award.

She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Regis University in Denver, Colorado.

Mary and her husband, Pete, raise hay and quarter horses on their ranch in the Elk River Valley in northwestern Colorado. She and her husband have two adult children.


“French philosopher Nicolas Malebranche wrote, ‘Attention is the natural prayer of the soul.’ If this is true, then Mary Kurtz is a woman who lives her life in prayer, lavishing attention on the land she’s rooted to: the Elk River Valley in the alpine altitudes of northern Colorado, where her family ranch lies. With Apertures: Findings from a Rural Life, she joins the great tradition of Western American literature, conveying the beauty of the land on a scale both vast and intimate. She gives us both the close-ups and the big picture in her crystalline, contemplative essays.”

JENNY SHANK   •   Author of The Ringer, winner of the High Plains Book Award in fiction and finalist for the Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Association’s Reading the West Book Awards.