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Patrick Donnelly


Patrick Donnelly was born on September 25, 1956, in Tucson, Arizona, and received his master’s degree in poetry from the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. He is the author of two books of poetry: Nocturnes of the Brothel of Ruin (Four Way Books, 2012) and The Charge (Ausable Press, 2003). He is also cotranslator, with Stephen D. Miller, of the 141 Japanese poems in The Wind from Vulture Peak: The Buddhification of Japanese Waka in the Heian Period (Cornell East Asia Series, 2013).

Of his second book, Jane Hirshfield writes, “This is a book as rare for the tuning fork accuracies of its language and encyclopaedic breadth of its knowledge as for the fearlessness of its feeling. Patrick Donnelly's urgent and brilliant poems embrace the omnivorous bonfires of transience and desire; by that permeable vow, they enter the surety of the lasting.”

Donnelly is the recipient of a 2008 Artist Fellowship from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the Margaret Bridgman Fellowship in Poetry, the Richard Soref Scholarship in Poetry, and two grants from the PEN American Center’s Fund for Writers and Editors with AIDS. In 2015, he was named the seventh poet laureate of Northampton, Massachusetts.

He is a former associate editor at Four Way Books and currently serves as an associate editor of Poetry International, contributing editor of Tran(s)tudies, and director of the Poetry Seminar at The Frost Place. He teaches at Smith College and lives in South Deerfield, Massachusetts.



Nocturnes of the Brothel of Ruin (Four Way Books, 2012)
The Charge (Ausable Press, 2003)


The Wind from Vulture Peak: The Buddhification of Japanese Waka in the Heian Period, with Stephen D. Miller (Cornell East Asia Series, 2013)

Photo credit: Carl Nardiello

By This Poet


Paradise on Black Ice

            Heaven hunts round for those that find itself below, and then it snatches.
                        —Emily Dickinson

I wind
the sheet of elegy

while he's still alive, I can't help it,
I follow his breath while he sleeps,

greet each coming and going,
with an Ave.
                  (Because of how
the quick
become the dead.)

But right now he's showering
with a gospel choir, radio

half on and half off that station.
And today's heaven is half hell,

half whole, half hurt,
hunting every naked thing

with the same harsh delight.

A Postcard of Christ Carrying the Cross,

circle of Giovanni Bellini circa 1505 oil on wood, is what
he fits between his third and fourth weekly pill boxes,

to remind himself to reorder. His routine about the anti-
virals is of greater magnitude, maybe, than the one in which

Mrs. Gardner used to place a vase of violets in front
of the painting, when she owned it. This card’s only

a reproduction of the Passion, not the original. But we’ve seen
how imitation and daily use can make of pity and fear

an almost cozy utensil. The Savior’s torso is pointed
toward the royal climb, but his unreadable eye turns out,

loosing on you, passerby, a tear of blood and milk.

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