Marty McConnell


McConnell's second poetry collection, "when they say you can't go home again, what they mean is you were never there," won the 2017 Michael Waters Poetry Prize and is forthcoming in 2018 on Southern Indiana University Press. Her first nonfiction book, “Gathering Voices: Creating a Community-Based Poetry Workshop,” was recently published by YesYes Books. She is the co-creator and co-editor of underbelly, a web site focused on the art and magic of poetry revision. She is the author of wine for a shotgun, (EM Press), which received the Silver Medal in the Independent Publishers Awards, and was a finalist for both the Audre Lorde Award (Publishing Triangle) and the Lambda Literary Awards. She is also a seven-time National Poetry Slam team member, the 2012 National Underground Poetry Individual Competition (NUPIC) Champion, and appeared twice on HBO’s “Def Poetry Jam.”  McConnell transplanted herself from Chicago to New York City in 1999, after completing the first of three national tours with The Morrigan, an all-female performance poetry troupe she co-founded. She received her MFA in creative writing/poetry from Sarah Lawrence College, and for nearly a decade, co-curated the flagship reading series of the New York City-based louderARTS Project. She returned to Chicago in 2009 to launch Vox Ferus, an organization dedicated to empowering and energizing individuals and communities through the written and spoken word. Source


tell me a story that ends well

and is real. love


succeeding, cancer beaten, the recipe

that turns out perfect


the first time. men will compete

at anything, and I


will watch them on the TV. I want things

to turn out


right. so I watch I Shouldn’t Be Alive

followed by 


I Shouldn’t Have Survived because

in the end


they did. and by “shouldn’t” they don’t mean

“I wish I hadn’t,”


at least not in the interviews that make

the show. the boys


dragged out to the ocean’s center in the dinghy

with no phone, no


snacks, no sunscreen, no mother—they all

made it back. and I


like that. I carry almonds just about everywhere

though they won’t help


in the case of a bear attack. it’s not that I don’t

have hope, I do. it’s just


that things have not been going my way of late.

I would like to stop


believing in love. or alternatively, to have proof.

out of the hundreds


of people I know, I know two happy couples. I want

a deeply romantic attorney


and some licorice. I want a baby. I want to stand at the edge

of a rooftop overlooking the city


at dawn and say, I shouldn’t have survived this. 

but look,


just look at me now.





Literary Movements:


Anthology Years:



Faith & Hope

Love & Relationships

Literary Devices:


a figure of speech in which words repeat at the beginning of successive clauses, phrases, or sentences


The repetition of similar vowel sounds that takes place in two or more words in proximity to each other within a line; usually refers to the repetition of internal vowel sounds in words that do not end the same.


the absence of a conjunction (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so…) between phrases and within a sentence


two lines of verse, usually in the same meter and joined by rhyme, that form a unit


Ironic understatement in which a positive idea is expressed using a negative of its opposite.