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The Woman in White Marble

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Mark Liebenow grew up in Wisconsin near John Muir’s boyhood home reading about Muir, Aldo Leopold, and Sigurd Olson. When he moved to California, he went to Yosemite and discovered the transcendence of Nature that Muir wrote about. Liebenow now lives in Illinois where he helps friends preserve heirloom seeds on their organic farm. He writes about nature, poetry, recovery from grief, and the theology of fools.

Liebenow is the author of four books. His essays, poems, and literary criticism have been published in journals like The Colorado Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Fifth Wednesday Journal, Spoon River Poetry Review, Chautauqua Literary Journal, Disquieting Muses Quarterly, Clackamas Literary Review, and Crab Orchard Review.

His poems have been set to music by composers Stephen Heinemann, an eight-minute work for chorus and soprano saxophone, Robert Levy, a jazz song, and piano works by David Henkelmann and John Arrowood, Jr.

He has won the Chautauqua Nonfiction Prize, the River Teeth Literary Nonfiction Prize, the Sipple Poetry Prize, received honorable mentions for the Editor’s Prize at The Spoon River Poetry Review and the Academy of American Poets Prize, and been nominated for an Illinois Arts Council Award and the Pushcart Prize.

Beside Yosemite, he has hiked in such places as the Beartooth Mountains in Montana, Cape Breton, and the Highlands of Scotland, canoed through the Boundary Waters of Minnesota and Canada, and biked across Wisconsin. He speaks before groups and gives workshops on a variety of topics.

Liebenow studied creative writing in the graduate school at Bradley University and English at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, holds M.Div. and M.A. degrees, and is married to Marcia Henry Liebenow, violinist.


Winter Prayer


In the turning of the natural world back towards light,

may we so turn.


May we be grateful for what we have,

and mindful of the refugee, the battered, the widowed, the abandoned. 

May we realize when we have enough and share the rest.


May we take risks and love without expecting anything in return.

May we respond to others with compassion instead of judgment.

May we sit with those who are hurting or lonely and be present.


May we realize that all of us are fearful, struggling, and have dreams.

May we talk through disagreements instead of cementing divisions into place.

May we be so open to others that they surprise us every day.


May we breathe slowly in the coming year.

May we walk through nature and listen.

May we be mindful of our heart and its leanings. 


May we be creative, brave, and caring.

May we dance when the day’s work is done.

May our lives exceed our expectations, but not our love.


Copyright © 2018 Mark Liebenow