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About this poet

Gillian Conoley was born in 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.”

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 north of San Francisco.


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)

It Was the Beginning of Joy and the End of Pain

Gillian Conoley
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 unto sphere it takes a loyal Enthusiast
to be
Death’s mother.  Stag on the meadow,

mare in the river,
unwinding green river   wide rock for the resting.

The man and the woman liked to go there, 
sprawled across

the warm hood of the car, a question under sky, a curve where the trees rustled.

A patch of brown hair on the white clapboard
where the deer tried to run off
scraping its side,

harsh light in the paint can, 

                               weightless
        the screen door until you
heard it click   shut.

She placed the shell and the action figure beside one another.
Who is king, my queen, as many tongues as there are swords.

Gone to field, weeds sway, some places are still
semi-barbarous you can make a fire under the bridge and smoke.







A headless man knows 
how you saw what the saw sawed,

and there is usually enough poetry
to pass out,   the day is ongoing,

you can get more material there
a rough sleeping    writ large.

I loved playing that hand harp,        large face 
coming to ask      Who are you,      Where       is your precipice?

The pattern crying, the pins too many colors, surround, surround.

The pattern crying you be the master, I’ll be the life,
 
have I been in this T-shirt all day, did I sleep in it, first did I see it this morning.

Was that you bound in sun on the step, living the life of the seasons, and loving,

I am recalling nothing of the unloving of ourselves,

did you not foreshorten into pattern one thing from its happening,
 
where you are slowly dying in a city,

I am born in a town.

Middling in a hive
 
nothing is daring to move anymore.

Sticking our feet into a template of lakes, 

it is endless, endless and endless a schizy feeling walking back into your world

Copyright © 2005 by Gillian Conoley.

Copyright © 2005 by Gillian Conoley.

Gillian Conoley

Gillian Conoley was born in 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
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