Al Young title

MARY RUDGE, Alameda’s poet laureate (1928 – 2014) | in memoriam

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Augusta Lee Collins posted in February Poetry Celebrating the Life of Mary Rudge

10.17.11 Augusta Collins-61-Edit

  • The Alameda Island Poets Chapter of the CFCP, Inc. hosts a reading
    Wednesday, February 12th from 7 PM
    dedicated to Mary Rudge.Mary’s longtime friend and admirer, Kirk Lumpkin, is featured.
    The open mic time will include members and guests
    reading from Mary’s poems and writings and
    reading or telling their own poems and stories about Mary.

1344 Park Street, Alameda, California 94501

open quotes blueService was her mission.
— Al Young

 Mary Rudge 15May2013 copy Button-Play-32x32 Watch

Mary Rudge bedecked with roses after receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 11th Berkeley Poetry Festival, May 15, 2013

Mary-Marcia Casoly

For Mary Rudge

Now Mary steps out into the great adventure
radiant with passport
passing into the universes’ total imagination
Pattern dance of fireflies
Lines on the transit map of conversation
She is the poet
dropping her crust of seasons
she used to wear around her spirited antique frame
assured that her poetry brought about safety
and joy, curiosity and potions
from writing rich spices and riding camels so far—
a goddess watering the flowers of the world
one spout at a time. O there she goes sashaying,
her eyes wide behind her glasses, the world is imagination!
She is glad to have squeezed your hand,
glad she could be of help. She must be going,
poet of peace in a fiery fusion, traveling beyond creation.


Adelle Foley | FOR MARY RUDGE

Came out of Texas
Scars of the great depression
Made you strong and sweet

You taught children art
Marched for peace and for justice
Traveled round the world

You published our poems
Taught us to work the camera
And roll the credits

At last we were stars.
Our 1990 feature
Is there on YouTube

We’ll miss those evenings
Driving from San Francisco
To Alameda

Trading bits of news,
Plans, shared memories, gossip
Rolling through the fog

Dancing in our dreams
You are forever our
Poet Laureate

Adelle Foley
1/21/2014 – 1/24/2014


Clara Hsu | MARY RUDGE

Mistress Mary
child of verse
how did the curtain fall?
With laurel crown
on haloed hair
and loving faces gathered around.
Gentle Mary
long endured
brittle bones and heart.
Mother Hubbard
with a problem shoe
fed her kids and filled the cupboard.
Hail Mary
full of grace
the Lord is with thee.
A lullaby
from earth to heaven
for the wee lamb blithe and spry.

Clara Hsu


My Town

Alameda: Mary Rudge, beloved Island’s poet laureate, dies at 85

ALAMEDA — Mary Rudge, Alameda’s beloved first poet laureate, died Sunday from cancer in her home with her daughter Diana Rudge by her side. She was 85.

On Saturday, Rudge participated in a celebration of poetry, art and dance entitled, “Collaboration and Inspiration,” at the Alameda Historical Museum. She read her poem, “Irish Girls,” with her daughter, accompanied by dance and music.

Rudge also presented her new book, “Jack London’s Neighborhood, A Guide to History and Inspiration in Alameda.”

Rudge was born in 1928 in Los Angeles, and grew up in Texas and Oklahoma. Even as a child, she loved art, and spent hours drawing, writing poetry and dreaming of traveling throughout the world with her poetry.

arrowClick here to read the rest of Nanette Deetz’s story


Passings: Alameda poet laureate Mary Rudge

Michele Ellson
© The Alamedan
Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Mary Rudge Photo: George Hollie

Mary Rudge and her daughter, Diana Rudge, at a Meet the Artists reception Saturday at Alameda Museum.

Mary Rudge, Alameda’s longtime poet laureate, has died.

Rudge typically declined to give her age. Friends said she had suffered a string of medical problems and had been in poor health, and that she passed peacefully on Monday.

Friends described Rudge as a woman who gave tirelessly to her community, raised a family and practiced her art in the face of incredible personal obstacles, traveling the world to spread her message of peace and working locally to boost literacy and access to her chosen form of expression.

“We’ve lost a real champion in poetry,” Natica Angilly, a longtime friend, said. “I don’t think any 25 people can do the work that she has done. She tried to really give of herself, always.”

arrowRead all of Michele Ellson’s obituary on the ageless Mary Rudge



Details for Mary Rudge’s viewing, funeral mass, and burial ceremories

Tuesday, January 28, 5pmViewing and Rosary service — Greer Mortuary, 2694 Blanding Ave., Alameda

Wednesday, January 29, 10amFuneral Mass — St. Barnabas Church, 1427  6th St. (at Taylor), Alameda

Wednesday, January 29, NoonBurial Ceremony  —  St. Dominic’s Cemetery, 585 Hillcrest Ave., Benicia

Everyone is welcome to all events.

Donations should go to the Rudge family to offset costs.
Make checks payable to Diana Rudge.

Artists’ Embassy workshop
this Saturday Jan 25th
will be dedicated to Mary Rudge.
There will be a book table with many of her books.
This will be from 11 AM at the
Alameda Historical Museum,
2324 Alameda Ave, Alameda, CA 94501.

The Alameda Island Poets Chapter of the CFCP, Inc.,
will host its regular Wednesday reading in February.
on the 2nd Wednesday
(NOT on February 5th),
Wednesday, February 12th from 7 PM
BOOKS, INC. 1344 Park Street Alameda.
This will be dedicated to Mary Rudge.


Mary’s longtime friend and admirer, Kirk Lumpkin, is featured.
The open mic time will include members and guests
reading from Mary’s poems and writings and
reading or telling their own poems and stories about Mary.


passport always everywhere poems Clickable image

Mary Rudge became the City of Alameda, California’s First Poet Laureate in 2002 and the city has retained her in this position … Newspapers called Mary Rudge “a global catalyst,” and critics described her as one of the San Francisco Bay Area’s most charismatic poets.

Mary Rudge by Kristen Hanlon Kristen Hanlon | The Alamedan

Alameda’s poet laureate Mary Rudge in April of 2013

And in the rite of passage, leaving the flower
of the world in full bloom
beyond decay, released to sky,
even we, transformed,
leap from a body’s spun threads
to butterfly flight.
— Mary Rudge
(from “Butterfly Poem”)


Monday, January 20, 2014
San Francisco Time

open quotesMary Rudge died early this morning. Her daughter Diana was with her, and told us that she passed away peacefully. It was an honor to have her with us one last time at our Big Show in Alameda Saturday, where she introduced her new book, Jack London’s Neighborhood, gathered with her many friends, and she and Diana read her poem, “Irish Girls,” accompanied by our dancers.

We will miss her dearly, after all these many years of wonderful creative activities.

Richard Angilly,
United Poets Laureate International,
World Congress of Poets


Alameda Bookshelf: Mary Rudge, Alameda’s poet laureate

© Kristen Hanlon
Thursday, May 9, 2013

On a recent warm April afternoon, I found Mary Rudge at Alameda’s Multicultural Community Center. She likes to spend most weekday afternoons there, writing, checking her e-mail, and helping facilitate events such as the annual Alameda Student Poetry Contest. Rudge is the City of Alameda’s first-ever poet laureate, a title she’s held since 2002, and has lived in Alameda for over 50 years. She has published numerous books and chapbooks and spoken internationally at schools, cultural centers, libraries, poetry groups, and peace events; she also raised seven children. On May 11, Rudge will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Berkeley Poetry Festival. Currently, Rudge is working on updating a book she published a decade ago, Jack London’s Neighborhood: a Pleasure Walker’s and Reader’s Guide to History and Inspiration in Alameda.

You were an art teacher for many years, and since retirement you’ve remained active, spreading the word about poetry. One of your endeavors has been the Alameda Student Poetry Contest, which is open to all students in Alameda from grades three to 12.

Zoe Holder was the co-chair with me this year, and we had so many wonderful poems come in from students all over Alameda. Our theme this year was “My Culture,” which we chose in hope that young people would be in dialogue with their family members about aspects of their culture. The poems that came in were very moving, and the judges were impressed by the variety and quality of the work.

What was your experience of poetry as a child?

I wasn’t exposed to poetry as a child. I grew up on the outskirts of a town in Oklahoma, we had an outdoor toilet, and we were what you might call “culturally deprived.” I went to a very small school, but I was a good student and skipped grades. Sometimes as a second grader the teacher would call on me to explain things to the fourth graders!

At some point I just picked up my pencil and began writing in rhyme, and I don’t really know where that came from (laughs). I had a teacher say to my parents, “Mary would do better if she wasn’t scribbling in the margins of books while I’m talking” and my father was very upset by that, he told me to stop it. But I kept on with it  …

arrowRead Kristen Hanlon’s full Spring 2013 interview with Mary Rudge in The Alamedan



Mary—can scarcely believe it.
Just back from LA—would have liked to have told you about it.
I lost my Catholicism so many years back,
will never regain it
but I would have gone to church with you.
If anyone had power to bless …
But you would not receive such praise
We who are luminous
I loved the hum of your voice
the sweetness of your consciousness
that found good in everyone
are radiant
And you were Irish
Oh, Mary,
named for the mother of heaven
Stella maris, star of the sea,
are 90 o/o light,
how you loved ritual, color, dance
how your words
moved to the movement
in homage to spirit inhabiting everything
(as Pagan a thing as Christian)
Flames loop and leap the arteries
There is a core of ember in the womb
Can scarcely believe your vanishing
beyond our brightness
beyond anything I can know
I remember your sweetness
your love of art
your passion for justice
in the bodies of strong women
reality and dream and memory
with hard and thudding rhythms   of our love
my love for you remains
here, on this earth,
under the deep sky of California
passionate and lasting as the redwoods
(like the one planted in 1980 by William Everson!)
and wishing that I am terribly wrong
about heaven
about the afterlife
so that you
might live
in all your dearness
in a house
that is on no corner
of any earthly city—
that you might have
the mansion
denied you
in life
[lines in italics from Mary Rudge’s book, Water Planet]
© 2014 Jack Foley



Winners of Alameda, California’s Jewel By the Bay Poetry Contest gather at Jackson Park, 19 July 2008: Mary Loughran, first prize (center right); Alameda poet laureate Mary Rudge, honorable mention (left); Patricia Edith, Frank Bette Center for the Arts‘ literary arts director (center left); Al Young, 2008 contest judge (right) | Photo: George Rowan, Jr.

poetry-program-at-kpfa-2-edit Raymond Nat Turner

Damien (a Pacifica staffer), poets Slim Russell, Florence Miller, Mary Rudge, Karla Brundage poets gather at KPFA Berkeley in 2008 to broadcast their love for the late Reginald Lockett on Avotcja’s late-morning radio show.


“Mary’s calm, firm, gentle manner moves and stirs me still. It was Mary who quietly got Mijusiin contributing editor Angela Reiss to translate poems of mine into Korean. And it was Mary who encouraged homeless poets to join her in submitting their work to Street Spirit. Service was her mission.”
— Al Young


One Response to “MARY RUDGE, Alameda’s poet laureate (1928 – 2014) | in memoriam”


    Poems of the World based in the U.S.A. has featured the memory of Mary Rudge in Volume 18 #2 – the Winter 2014 issue.
    Mary Rudge had submitted her poems for publication in our 18-year old quarterly worldwide poetry sharing publication. She had appeared in all our issues for the last 18 years.
    If interested in obtaining a copy of Volume 18#2, please email

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