Joan Houlihan was born in Newton, Massachusetts. She received her BA and MA degrees from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. She is the author of six poetry collections, including It Isn’t a Ghost if it Lives in Your Chest (Four Way Books, 2021); Shadow-feast (Four Way Books, 2018); Ay (Tupelo Press, 2014); The Us (Tupelo Press, 2009); The Mending Worm (New Issues Press, 2005 winner of the Green Rose Award); and Hand-held Executions: Poems & Essays (Del Sol Press, 2003, re-issued in 2009).
Houlihan is Professor of Practice at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts and also serves on the faculty of Lesley University’s Low-Residency MFA program in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She is founder and director of the Colrain Poetry Manuscript Conference and lives in Acton, Massachusetts.