poem index


Gillian Conoley

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Gillian Conoley
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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)

by this poet

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,

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


I threw out everything that didn’t give me a spark

and hung all the whites on the table.

Greens and deep dirt browns and grays.

The sensory titillations of the day

entered each limb’s phantom collapse and gait, tremor are you

See until you are gone and there is only