Mary Noonan was born in London of Irish parents, and was brought up in Cork city and county. Having worked in Brussels and London, she returned to Cork in 1994 to take up a post as Lecturer in French at University College Cork.
Mary’s poetry emerged in published form in 2007, when she was the featured poet in the Winter 2006/07 issue of The Stinging Fly. In April 2007, she was selected to take part in the Poetry Ireland Introductions series of readings. She read at the Poetry Hearings festival in Berlin in November 2009. In 2010, the manuscript of her first collection won the Listowel Poetry Collection Prize.
In 2012, her first collection, The Fado House, was published by Dedalus Press, Dublin. The book was subsequently shortlisted for The Seamus Heaney Centre Prize for a First Collection 2013, and The Strong/Shine Award for a First Collection 2013. It was reviewed in Poetry Ireland Review, Poetry London, Southword, BigCityLit (http://www.bigcitylit.com/spring2013/reviews/reviews.php?page=sideris) and The Poetry Shed (https://abegailmorley.wordpress.com/2015/05/03/david-cooke-reviews-noonans-the-fado-house/).
She has read at the Cork Spring Poetry Festival (2013) and the West Cork Literature Festival, Bantry (2013); Bridlington Poetry Festival (2014); King’s Lynn Poetry Festival (2014) and the Dromineer Literary Festival (2014); StAnza Poetry Festival, St Andrew’s (2015); the Bodmin Moor Poetry Festival, Cornwall (2015); Novi Sad International Poetry Festival, Serbia (2015); Spur Toronto (2017); Versefest Ottawa (March 2019); West Cork Literature Festival (July 2019); King’s Lynn Poetry Festival (September 2019).
In 2013, she was invited, along with poet Matthew Sweeney, to contribute to the summer school of the Sierra Nevada College MFA in Creative Writing in Lake Tahoe, Nevada.
She was awarded a Literature Bursary by the Arts Council of Ireland in 2014.
Also in 2014, she was selected by the Poetry Trust UK as one of eight emerging poets (known as ‘The Aldeburgh Eight’) to attend the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival and to be mentored at a week-long intensive writing retreat led by poets Peter Sansom and Michael Laskey.
In 2015, Mary Noonan received a bursary of €10,000 from Universary College Cork to curate an international poetry reading series, in the course of which international poets and their English-language translators would read and deliver poetry translations workshops and seminars at UCC. The programme for This Dust of Words: Poetry And/AsTranslation, featured poets such as Valérie Rouzeau, Jan Wagner, Antonella Anedda , Jamie McKendrick and Jo Shapcott: https://thisdustofwords.wordpress.com/. Videos of the work of this series can be consulted at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClyNDbPvHdrNYeNJvOSGu6g
Between 2016 and 2018 she was the poetry editor of the online literary journal Southword. During this time, she edited the poetry in four issues, and judged the Gregory O’Donoghue International Poetry Prize 2017.
Her second collection, Stone Girl, was published by Dedalus Press in February 2019. It was reviewed by Ruth Sharman in The High Window: https://thehighwindowpress.com/2020/01/19/rurh-sharman-reviews-mary-noonans-stone-girl/, and by Amanda Bell in The Dublin Review of Books: https://www.drb.ie/essays/navigating-loss.
In 2020, Mary was awarded a Literature Bursary by the Arts Council of Ireland. In May 2020, Stone Girl was shortlisted for the inaugural Derek Walcott Prize for Poetry: https://www.derekwalcott.com/post/prize-for-poetry.