Joan Houlihan


AS HOME GRIPS the body    she is dark looked into

where gauze and tongs hold     parts of him in phantom

as if there would be more     of what the limbs belong to. Lying

back in a chair, his rupture slowed   and the room a dread to enter.

Effaced, they are each the other    seen through animal sense

and at the window an emptiness    roaming from place to place.


Joan Houlihan is the author of five books of poetry including Shadow-feast, forthcoming from Four Way Books in 2018.  Her other books are: Ay (Tupelo Press, 2014), The Us (Tupelo Press, 2009), The Mending Worm, winner of the 2005 Green Rose Award from New Issues Press and Hand-Held Executions: Poems & Essays (Del Sol Press, 2003). She is contributing critic for the Contemporary Poetry Review and author of Boston Comment, a series of critical essays. She has taught at Columbia University, Emerson College and Smith College and serves on the faculty of Lesley University’s Low-Residency MFA in Creative Writing Program in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She is also Professor of Practice in Poetry at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. Houlihan founded and directs the Colrain Poetry Manuscript Conference.

On the importance of poetry:

“Because words fail—in trauma, in mystery, in the experience of the sublime—poetry is necessary to break the silence.”