Part of the vanguard of poets fusing and refusing and queering the delineations between literary and oral poetry, Marty McConnell’s work blurs the lines between autobiography and personae to comment on and illuminate what it means to live and love outside the lines in 21st century America.

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’s work has been published in numerous anthologies, including Best American Poetry 2014; Bullets & Butterflies: Queer Spoken Word Poetry; A Face to Meet the Faces: An Anthology of Contemporary Persona Poetry; City of the Big Shoulders: An Anthology of Chicago Poetry; and Word Warriors: 35 Women Leaders in the Spoken Word Movement, as well as journals including Bellevue Literary Review, Willow Springs, Gulf Coast, Indiana Review, Crab Orchard, and Beloit Poetry Journal, among many others.

McConnell was recently selected for a residency at Hedgebrook, and debuted a collaborative and interactive performance experience entitled "when they say you can't go home again, what they mean is you were never there," with her wife, installation artist Lindsey Dorr-Niro, through a grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events.

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.

She has performed and facilitated workshops at schools and festivals around the country, including The Dodge Poetry Festival, Palm Beach Poetry Festival, Wicker Park Arts Festival, Connecticut Poetry Festival, Cornell University, University of Utah, James Madison University, Old Dominion, University of Connecticut, University of Arkansas, DePaul University, and more. She lives in Chicago, and travels the country performing and leading workshops, as well as coaching individuals in moving toward their best lives. For more information on her growth coaching work, please visit


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Cover: when they say you can’t go home again, what they mean is you were never there