Connolly, Geraldine 1947-

views updated

CONNOLLY, Geraldine 1947-

PERSONAL: Born October 12, 1947, in Greensburg, PA; daughter of Gerald William and Rosalia (Skavinski) Raling; married Stephen James Connolly, July 26, 1969; children: Sarah, Brian. Education: University of Pittsburgh, B.A.; University of Maryland, M.A.

ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Iris Press, 1345 Oak Ridge Turnpike, PMB 328, Oak Ridge, TN 37830.

CAREER: Poet. Worked for the Folger Shakespeare Library, 1971-75; teacher of poetry at the Writers Center, Bethesda, MD and Johns Hopkins graduate writing program, Washington, DC.

MEMBER: Poetry Society of America.

AWARDS, HONORS: National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, 1987, 1995; Maryland Arts Council, grant, 1988, fellowship, 1990; Carolyn Kizer prize, Poetry Northwest, 1989; National Ekphrastic Poetry Competition winner, 1998; first prize, W. B. Yeats Society contest, 2002, for "Darkness with Lantern"; Margaret Bridgman fellow, Breadloaf Writers Conference; residencies at Yaddo, Virginia Center for Creative Arts, and Chautauqua Institute.



The Red Room (chapbook), Heatherstone Press, 1988.

Food for the Winter, Purdue University Press (West Lafayette, IN), 1990.

(Editor, with others) Open Door: A Poet Lore Anthology, Writer's Center Editions (Bethesda, MD), 1997.

Province of Fire, Iris Press (Oak Ridge, TN), 1998.

Contributor to journals, including Antioch Review, Shenandoah, Gettysburg Review, Chelsea, Georgia Review, and Poetry Northwest.

ADAPTATIONS: Work recorded and broadcast on The Poet and the Poem, WPFW radio.

SIDELIGHTS: Poet Geraldine Connolly grew up in rural Pennsylvania, and her childhood and remembrances of her Polish Catholic girlhood are evident in her work. In one poem in her chapbook, The Red Room, she describes looking at an old photograph album with her sister, an album filled with pictures of her father and the woman who was his lover before her mother. "Lydia" was the woman he met in England during the war; the woman photographed with him in front of a cottage; the woman painted, nearly nude, on his airplane; and the sophisticated-looking woman smoking a cigarette in a holder. Commenting on the volume in Georgia Review, Ted Kooser said that "Ly dia" "has a sort of airy breathing room in it, but when it becomes important for Connolly to bring the form in closer about us and heat things up, she does so to good effect."

In Food for the Winter, Connolly's poems are a variety of remembrances, including her exile to boarding school and the pain of being worked over in a beauty shop. A Virginia Quarterly Review contributor noted that the capturing of the past is the "function" of this poetry, and added that in Connolly's poems, "there is no striving for effect; a tone of subdued poignancy prevails in all her work." Booklist's Pat Monaghan commented that the title poem, in which the author visits a slaughterhouse to order a side of beef, is an "unflinching look at the way family survival requires loss and pain."

Joanna C. Scott wrote in WordHouse, that Province of Fire "is an account of the journey to maturity, the struggle to break away from the twin restrictions of a Catholic childhood and the mother's molding hand. All the poems are spoken in a single voice, but the voice changes."

The collection is divided into four sections. Scott wrote that the first section is "spoken by the petulant child." These poems show Connolly resisting the efforts of her mother and the nuns to mold her into the perfect young Catholic girl. The second section contains a history of the poet's family, their migration to America, and Connolly's grandfather's hard labor in a coal mine as he works to improve their lot. Scott noted that this section "is spoken in a universal voice, the poet as storyteller." The title poem is contained in the third section, which is a flashback to childhood told in the voice of the adult.

The final section is spoken in the voice of the mature woman. In conclusion, Scott said of Connolly's Province of Fire that "however much she may have tried to shake off her early religious training, this collection is inspired and fueled by it, and from it derive many of its fiercest and most powerful images."



Booklist, August, 1990, Pat Monaghan, review of Food for the Winter, p. 2149.

Georgia Review, fall, 1990, Ted Kooser, review of TheRed Room, pp. 501-509.

Virginia Quarterly Review, autumn, 1990, review of Food for the Winter, pp. 136-137.

WordHouse (newsletter of the Baltimore Writers' Alliance), fall, 1999, Joanna C. Scott, review of Province of Fire.*