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Province of Fire   

Poetry by Geraldine Connolly  

1st Edition  
98 pages  
Published on December 1, 1998  
ISBN 0-916078-46-9  




The nuns flew back and forth from church
to convent to school, black wings
of conviction and purpose. They loved
God in all his loneliness and the children
of the immigrants, fresh, white-faced,
who lined the pews with hopeful bouquets.
Shadows jammed the aisles, sins
overflowed the confessionals.

On the river, the whistle blew
at daybreak, noon and night shift.
Debris floated, vials, shiny wrappers,
bottle caps, past the mill fire
that lit the night sky and exploded
in a thousand sparks. Reverent
with abandon, we held out our arms
to catch them.


Praise for Province of Fire:

Patterns of image in a poem are a form of thinking, and Connolly is an intelligent writer, restrained, yet bold and capable of embodying her landscapes with complexity and resonance.

--Tony Hoagland, Cimarron Review


Connolly is a "soaring beast with smoking hair," a poet who has not turned sheepish or haggard, not been swallowed, as her ancestors were, by harsh lives in the mine and factory. She has survived fears and fights of her childhood with a springing energy that gives lilt to her lines. In these poems she draws crisp and keenly felt portraits of her family and claims herself as a powerful woman come into her active and sexual own. --Stephanie Strickland
"Someone has make this journey for me/and I must continue the story," Geraldine Connolly writes, and in these avid, joyous, and sorrowful autobiographical poems she keeps that vow, memorializing her Catholic girlhood, her parents' experiences as worker, her immigrant ancestry. An irrepressible female spirit rises to the surface across the generations, and she is after nothing less that "the true wildness/within her." To read Province of Fire is to feel its radiating heat.

--Edward Hirsch


Author Biography:

Born in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, Geraldine Connolly grew up in Westmoreland County and was educated at the University of Pittsburgh. She worked on the staff of the Folger Shakespeare Library from 1971 1975 and attended graduate school at the University of Maryland. She has received two fellowships in poetry from the National Endowment for the Arts, one in 1987 and one in 1995. In 188, she received a Works-in Progress grant from the Maryland Arts Council and in 1990, a Maryland Arts Council Fellowship. She was the Margaret Bridgman Fellow at the Breadloaf Writers Conference and has held residencies at Yaddo, the Virginia Center for Creative Arts and the Chautauqua Institute.
Her chapbook, A Red Room, was published by Heatherstone Press in 1988 and a full-length collection, Food for the Winter, by Purdue University Press in 1990. She recently co-edited The Open Door, an anthology of work from Poet Lore. Her work has appeared widely in literary magazines, including Antioch Review, Chelsea, The Gettysburg Review, Shenadoah, Poetry, and Poetry Northwest. She was awarded the Carolyn Kizer prize from Poetry Northwest in 1989 and won the National Ekphrastic Poetry Competition in 1998. Her work has been recorded and broadcast on WPFW Radio's "The Poet and the Poem." She teaches poetry at the Writers Center in Bethesda, Maryland and at Johns Hopkins' Washington D.C. Graduate Writing Program.

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