Why Photographers Commit Suicide by Mary McCray

Why Photographers Commit Suicide by Mary McCray, illustrated by Emil Villavincencio and published by Termentina Books, is a collection of science fiction poetry — yes, you head that right!  These poems mesh not only the exploration of space with the modern world here on Earth, but they also harken to older themes of Manifest Destiny dating back to America’s youngest roots as a nation.  It’s a collection about the opportunities space exploration can represent, which is highly ironic given the government’s recent decision to shut down the manned shuttle program.

From "Helga Post-Orbit" (page 52)

No, it's not the sentimental, leftover space

that matters as much as the idea of Helga, open-eyed
and drifting, somewhere out of the room.
Or this mortal part of me -- lost in a raw,
everlasting free-fall of disconnected, disordered love,

knowing I'll uncover Martians, (Martians!),
the impossible mysteries of Mars,
before I'll ever know
where Helga has gone.

McCray’s poems are fantastical, opening up a solar system to the reader that delves into questions of existence and the hereafter, but also the never-ending search for more.  She explores space, Mars, and even artificial intelligence.  There are some beautiful moment of motion, like in “All of a Sudden,” where the narrator awakens:  “Last night, a woman in a hospital smock laid her fingers/on the shiny bells and, mouth over face,/blew tornadoes into the water-pale toes./Then, eyes shut and palms summoning,/my child asked me if I knew who I was./And I said, yes, I am the speed at which/particles collide.//”  For the most part, these poems draw comparisons between the society we create here on Earth and its focus on the material, and how any society on another planet would likely be more of the same.  As we seek to comfort ourselves in the unfamiliar by bringing along the unfamiliar — even to the detriment of animals brought along in the rocket.

McCray paints extraordinary pictures with her words, but the accompanying drawings from Emil Villavincencio do not add very much to the overall collection, though they are well crafted and seem to be mostly pencil renditions.  Beyond the poems about space and exploration, there are more personal poems about alienation from family members, the beauty of poetry as a reflection of space, and the amazing experience of “Sex in Zero Gravity”:  “astronaut, astronaut –/kiss me with your incomplete sentences/and your raw relativity,/run your fingers like lasers,/escape velocity through my motor heart,/the acceleration thrust/of your deep-space Cadillac cruising/my jelly-fish tremors,/touching the swirling hurricane/that is the red G-Spot of Jupiter/”  There has never been such a beautiful references to spaceships taking off and hurricanes on foreign planets in poetry to describe a sexual encounter.

Why Photographers Commit Suicide by Mary McCray is imaginative and one of the best written science fiction collections of poetry out there, and it will have readers questioning their place in the world and the need to explore more.  Like the poet points out in the title poem, we leave a bit of ourselves in the world around us, and we should be mindful of our impact.

About the Poet:

Mary McCray is the co-author of St. Lou Haiku, a collection of haiku poetry about St. Louis, Missouri, and Why Photographers Commit Suicide, poems about space exploration and new frontiers.  Visit her Website, visit her on Twitter, and on Facebook.  Also check out her bookshelf on GoodReads.


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This is my 24th book for the 2013 New Authors Challenge.



This is my 15th book for the Dive Into Poetry Challenge 2013.


  1. Glad you enjoyed it! You know I’m not much for sci-fi, so I probably wouldn’t read it.

    • It’s very interesting. Simply because it is science fiction does not mean that you would not like it, especially given some sci-fi you’ve read in the past….you might enjoy this more 😉