Apertures: Findings from a Rural Life

Shanti Arts Publishing

It’s possible, said William Blake, “To see a World in a Grain of Sand / And a Heaven in a Wild Flower.” In this beautiful collection of essays, Mary Kurtz proves Blake right. The lenses provided by her forty years on a ranch in northwestern Colorado—in sight of the Rockies and not far from the Elk River—allow her to write of local life in a universal way, a way that opens into the world of our senses and the world of mystery. No matter where or how you live, these deeply lived and well-told stories will illumine your life.

—Parker J. Palmer, author of On the Brink of Everything, Let Your Life Speak, A Hidden Wholeness, and The Courage to Teach

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At Home in the Elk River Valley

Readers who love the West will find this book to be an insightful journey into the history, natural world, and community of a special mountain valley near Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Walk through the Elk River Valley with Mary as she shares her thoughtful perspectives on the people, history, rich landscape, and ranching traditions of the place she has called home for over thirty years.

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Ankle High and Knee Deep

Mary’s essays, “Bugsy” and “Daddy’s Girl,” are anthologized in Ankle High and Knee Deep.

Ankle High and Knee Deep: Women Reflect on Western Rural Living, an anthology, is written by ranch women, cowgirls, and farmers about their day to day lives on the land. This collection of inspirational and contemporary voices offers accounts of women struggling to keep a lifestyle intact, recollections of childhoods spent in open spaces, and tales of overcoming obstacles–inspirational reading for city dwellers and country folk, alike.

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Other Publications

“If Only I’d Known”

Speckled Trout Review

Fall 2021
Volume 3

“The Braided Essay: Twine Weave and Complexity”

The Hong Kong Review

September 2021, Vol III, No. 1

“A Flight from Winter”

A Writer’s Workshop Review

Volume 15

April 21, 2021

“Dendrites and Stars”

BlueHouse Journal Issue 3 November 2020

“A Rustling in the Oaks”

Braided Way: Faces and Voices of Spiritual Practice

September 28, 2020

“A Dark and Gnarled Wood”

Amsterdam Quarterly Issue 28

Writing and art in the Netherlands and the world

“The Here and Now”

The Colorado Sun’s “Write On” COVID19 project.

Featured on “The Waking,” a blog published by Ruminate, a contemplative literary arts magazine.

December 3, 2019

Why We Write Series

April 15, 2015

Why We Write Series

March 23, 2014

Recognition & Awards

First Place

Writing It Real Essay Contest with winning essay: “Why I Write”


2012 Regional Nonfiction by the National Indie Excellence Book Award 


2012 Colorado Independent Publishers Association’s EVVY Award


January 2019 “The Braided Essay: Twine, Weave and Complexity” at Regis University Mile High MFA graduation ceremony

“Emotional control of the narrative makes Mary’s experience all the more riveting and poignant. I was swept up by the vivid flow of habitual action interrupted by intense bursts of scene. Splendid handling of an expanse of time…”

MOLLY TINSLEY   •   contest judge and author of Throwing Knives, winner of the Sandstone Prize for Short Fiction in 1999 and the 2001 Oregon Book Award