University of Southern Indiana

Marty McConnell

Winner of the 2017 Michael Waters Poetry Prize

What does it mean to be bodied in such a way that one is simultaneously weapon and target? To exist within a species tipping toward extinction? How do we navigate the landscape of our own damage, received and inflicted, in such a way as to move through individual survival and into a common joy? The gift and the trap of the human body and its attachments to this world converge and dissolve in these poems of ecstatic music, animated rage, and wild, generative hope.


“In these brave, bold and edgy poems, Marty McConnell speaks with determination and authority. She takes her/our daily life struggles and forces us to face them, to find purpose and meaning. This collection contains some of McConnell’s best work. Every line, every image, reveals a dramatic new world, a new challenge to grapple with. Here lies a meditation on life, love, survival. Read aloud, you will discover a new self.”      

-Cheryl Boyce-Taylor


“If future generations want to know what it meant to live in the belly of the beast at this moment in history, they would do well to read the poems of Marty McConnell. These are poems that bear witness and much more: they explore a remarkable range of human experiences and emotional registers. There is fiery condemnation of injustice and jubilant praise of everyday pleasures; there are voices from the margins and voices of privilege that burn with searing honesty; there is fragmented language that mirrors the fragmentation of our times, and there is language that speaks with the clarity of prophecy. Above all, there is love, of both a personal and political nature, that resonates with hope. I, for one, am grateful for the blaze of electricity in these poems of Marty McConnell, for the thunderstorms and lamplight which illuminate our darkness.”   

-Martín Espada


“In when they say you can’t go home again, what they mean is you were never there, Marty McConnell asks, ‘How shall we pretty for this ruin?’ She awaits apocalypse yet wards it off with inventory and lexicon in the service of love: ‘I think // our speaking redoes the world.’ Her book remains startling in its freshness and candor, and especially in its insistent hope for our future.”

-Michael Waters


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