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Science and Ideas Group - Creativity: Thinking Out of The Box

Thursday, July 11, 2024, 3:00 PM until 4:30 PM
Additional Info:
Event Contact(s):
Joseph D Evinger
Interest Group
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Payment In Full In Advance Only
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Mary Mackey

RSVP: Joseph Evinger (

When: Every 2nd Thursday of the month, 3:00-4:30 pm

Where: Zoom (click "Zoom" to join event)

Meeting ID: 848 0146 1083
Passcode: science

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Meeting ID: 848 0146 1083 

Open to: All

Science and Ideas: Creativity: Thinking Out of The Box

Presenter: Mary Mackey, PhD, Novelist, Poet, Screenwriter and New York Times Bestselling Author.

Description of talk: 
How do you get a person who is in the box to think out of the box? How can scientists become more creative? Where do people get ideas? Why do bursts of insight come to us? What is the source of those ideas and how do they come into the human brain from a vast wordless reality and get translated into words? In this talk, award-winning poet and New York Times bestselling novelist Mary Mackey will discuss the origins of inspiration, taking us to on a journey to the entry point where it all begins. Along the way, she will discuss the how high fevers (approaching 107 degrees) and a half-dozen near-death experiences gave her glimpses of an infinite source of inspiration; how living and working in tropical jungles in remote biological field stations inspired her poems and novels; how standing in the shower gave her the idea for her bestselling novel; how dreams can be mined for innovative ideas; how—contrary to popular belief— suffering is not the key to creativity; and how, although necessary, logic alone is not enough.

Short biography:  Mary Mackey became a writer by running high fevers, tramping through tropical jungles, being swarmed by army ants, and reading. Related through her father's family to Mark Twain, she graduated magna cum laude from Harvard and received her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of Michigan where she wrote her doctoral dissertation on the influence of the Darwinian revolution on the 19th century novel. She is the author of 8 poetry collections, including Sugar Zone, winner of a PEN Award, and The Jaguars That Prowl Our Dreams, winner the 2019 Eric Hoffer Award for Best Book Published by a Small Press. A screenwriter as well as a novelist and poet, she has sold filmscripts to Warner Brothers as well as to independent film companies. In 2020, her script Time Piece was Winner of the 2022 City of Angels Women’s Film Festival Award for Best Short Screenplay. In 2023, her script The Stand In (adapted from her novel of the same title) was a City of Angels Women’s Film Festival Award Official Selection for Best Feature Screenplay. Her most recent book Creativity: Where Poems Begin (Marsh Hawk Press) was a Northern California Book Reviewers Award finalist for Best Book of Creative Nonfiction Published in Northern California in 2023. Creativity looks at the origins of inspiration, told in a way that encourages others to find their own unique paths to the place where inspiration begins.

Infinite Worlds (A poem by Mary Mackey)


The limitless content of our universe might be only
one instance of a large (and possibly infinite) number
of other universes. 

–Astronomer Seth Shostak,
Director of the Center for SETI Research

When you lift your fork an infinite number of yous

all lift their forks at the same instant   and an infinite number

are missing their mouths   and an infinite number are choking

on the tines   and an infinite number are being struck by meteors

and vaporized   and an infinite number are being trampled by

cattle or time-traveling mammoths or naked strippers

who look like Martha Washington   and an infinite number

of the strippers are sprouting purple wings just as Christ

is coming back in the form of an infinite number of small green aliens

who are explaining they are a poetry collective that specializes in holographs

and apologizing for the cultural disruption their guy-on-the-cross

experiment made   and that fork keeps rising and rising and destroying

everything in its path as you commit suicide an infinite number

of times   and give birth to an infinite number of babies who drown

in an infinite number of great rivers 150 miles wide which suddenly

appear out of nowhere carrying schools of voracious piranhas who devour an

infinite number of yous forks before they turn into infinite numbers of gold, rats

hairpins and hockey sticks




when there are an infinite number of worlds anything can

happen   and will an infinite number of times   which is why

the idea of infinity   like all things that have no limits

is impossible to grasp even in your own kitchen over a plate

of fried potatoes with a red-handled stainless steel



by Mary Mackey

from The Jaguars That Prowl Our Dreams