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About this poet

Gillian Conoley was born on March 29, 1955, in Taylor, Texas, a rural town about thirty miles outside of Austin where her parents owned and operated a radio station. She earned her BFA in journalism at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, before earning her MFA in creative writing from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Conoley is the author of seven poetry collections, the most recent of which is Peace (Omnidawn Publishing, 2014), a work that Yusef Komunyakaa said “encompasses the wholeness of a world vision, where the experimental converges with the lyrical narrative—past, present, and future—to unveil those hidden moments surrounding us, as well as the accentuated ones.” Her other poetry books include The Plot Genie (Omnidawn Publishing, 2009); Profane Halo (Wave Books, 2005); and Lovers in the Used World (Carnegie-Mellon University Press, 2001).

Poet Kathleen Fraser writes, “Gillian Conoley’s poems at once saturate and aerate the imagination with extraordinarily lush tropics of language. Her sensibility moves along the erotic path of the physical world with an eye trained to catch every uncertainty, while celebrating the body’s powerful claims.”

She is also the translator of Thousand Times Broken: Three Books by Henri Michaux (City Lights, 2014), never before translated into English.

Conoley is the recipient of a Fund for Poetry Award, the Jerome J. Shestack Poetry Prize from The American Poetry Review, and a National Endowment for the Arts grant.

She has taught at the University of Denver, University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Texas State University, Tulane University, and Vermont College. She is currently a professor and poet-in-residence at Sonoma State University in Rohnert Park, California, where she is the founder and editor of VOLT. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.


Selected Bibliography

Peace (Omnidawn Publishing, 2014)
The Plot Genie (Omnidawn Publishing, 2009)
Profane Halo (Wave Books, 2005)
Lovers in the Used World (Carnegie-Mellon University Press, 2001)
Beckon (Carnegie-Mellon University Press, 1996)
Tall Stranger (Carnegie-Mellon University Press, 1991)
Some Gangster Pain (Carnegie-Mellon University Press, 1987)

The Patient

Gillian Conoley, 1955

I am patient. That is my mineral fact. 

         I have long term storage in double helixes

my two long polymers of nucleotides 

         my backbone made of sugars and phosphate groups 

joined by ester bonds. I see imagist pears dissolving down



golden arms I hear needle-less the sleep aid cd's

         real violins, then float blue-black 

at the eventide, injure

         of the taut to and fro, cut-back 

asphalt road, a path of greening twigs nourishing


nothing personal. Root stocks 

         of the best grapes, balm

for the honeybee's bite, lyme's flea—

         money chimes in the community bowl,

with patience I can sit on this bench


and wait for the ironworks of a previous century

         to reverse themselves, or I can lie in the grass,

vision the airplane's scatter-lit

         hallway, the descent 

only a little shaky

             like the trouble between art and life rolling you out

into an unpainted landscape,



the unbelted intoxication of travel    unstable as a chemical's twisted briar


medicine or drug    licit or illicit

                or afterimage

                time to move along

it's pathos time

        dodge a supreme fear

pathos—



                                        Patience was crowding anxiety

                              Patience's tired tongue was breaking a bone,



                                   while the twin and drone
                           to be patient with


hovered over 

our uncharted, rimless wants, 

rictus a slit vowel—




                                  La vida,
                                  a mess of dominoes
                                  face down.




I am a pilot light
                                 desiring more recognition,

                                 I suck grass
                                 to the dead inside.



The sleep aid cd & Hippocratic oath     mixed up good 

in the cocktail of my head    spoken into like commerce's cavity,

cavity or skylight    opening to the early spring blossoms

in the airless baggage claim


                                       SANCHEZ in stencil font
                                       stitched to my desert fatigues


holding luggage    looking for someone to pick me up 


I can be both
life-charged and dead
in consecutive units,



exited to like

turnpike rest stop's    promisingly lit 

pagoda, a respite    for the humans stopping and returning,

            the humans predicating,


a human is someone
who has wandered in from the desert.

I am patience in a substance clothed.

truly a creepy troll
truly a creepy troll

a human is the one 

continuing to close 
Christ's eyes
on the great crucifixes 

wagering will there    now be some inevitable progress.     In a tone pour,

the erotics of the electronics    swelling the house

and trailing to the sidewalk, 

        skip to sound

a harrowing to go, a darned patch

A soft fontanel
a warm harm
a human 

         does nothing 

unusual, forgetting the euphoria
of human potential

is human potential 

wanting more tools to form the mind. Rest, stop, a human is go

stopping and returning,

a practice    a human is someone

to pick you up
a human is someone to hone
in a human's 

long-held desire to vanish in a crowd or x-ed 

out void of others,
in mass human's estranging light.

Copyright © 2011 by Gillian Conoley. Used with permission by the author.

Copyright © 2011 by Gillian Conoley. Used with permission by the author.

Gillian Conoley

Gillian Conoley

Gillian Conoley was born on March 29, 1955, in Taylor, Texas, a rural town about thirty miles outside of Austin where her parents owned and operated a radio station. She earned her BFA in journalism at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, before earning her MFA in creative writing from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

by this poet

poem
The sewing machine had a sort of genius, high, oily and red

over that little hellion’s pants.     Joy and Pain crossing legs,

then coloring in the poverty—

Are we a blue, blue whine in the restive trees?

Are we under the imprecision?

The beginning endless, ending like chasing deer out of the yard,

sphere