Patricia Traxler

Photo: Stephen Hébert, Newsweek

Nominated for the Paterson Poetry Prize & the Poetry Society of America's William Carlos Williams Award

Reading poetry at Midleton Library in County Cork, Ireland, April 2012; photo by Fergus McCarthy

Working with teens at Opportunity Now, 2014; photo by Ann Marie Morris

St. Martins/Macmillan

Photo by William Stafford, 1986

University of Missouri Press

About Patricia:

Award-winning poet, essayist, and fiction writer Patricia Traxler is the author of four poetry collections: Naming the Fires (2016, Hanging Loose Press); Forbidden Words (University of Missouri); Blood Calendar (William Morrow); The Glass Woman (Hanging Loose Press); and a novel, Blood (St. Martin's/​Macmillan), which was also published in Spanish (Emecé Editores), Swedish (Wahlström & Widstrand), and German (Droemersche Verlag/​Knaur) translations, as well as in an Ireland/​UK edition (Piatkus). Blood was a best-seller in Latin America. Traxler is currently completing work on a collection of autobiographical essays, The Eternity Bird, which explores faith and doubt, politics--sexual and otherwise--family, and such subjects as the meaning of truth in the life of a writer.

Born and raised in San Diego, California and one of eight children in a working class Irish-Catholic family, Traxler was much influenced by her maternal grandmother, Nora Dunne, a poet from County Cork, Ireland, who lived with the family for several years during Traxler’s childhood.

"When I was a kid," she says, "I often saw Gran working on her poetry in a green clothbound ledger, or heard her around the house reciting poems like Shelley's 'To a Skylark,’ just for the delight she took in them, so I grew up seeing poetry as an ordinary and essential part of everyday life.”

Twice named the Bunting Poetry Fellow at Radcliffe, Traxler also served as Hugo Poet at the University of Montana and Thurber Poet at Ohio State. She has lectured, read, or served as visiting writer at many other US universities, including the University of California, San Diego; Emerson College, Boston; Old Dominion University, Virginia; Westminster College, Salt Lake City; San Diego State University; Utah State University; and Kansas University, Lawrence.

"I like the inspiration and challenge of working as a writer in the community," says Traxler, a longtime resident of Kansas. "And although I love teaching aspiring young poets and fiction writers in a university setting, I guess it's not surprising that some of my most rewarding teaching experiences have come while working in the larger community with people of all ages and backgrounds."

In addition to her work with mainstream and gifted student populations at all academic levels, she has developed writing programs and projects for at-risk teens, deaf and hearing-impaired children, and learning-disabled students. She has also created grief workshops for adults and children, programs for cancer patients, survivors of domestic violence, residents of homeless shelters, and for mental-health patients and stroke patients in a hospital setting.

“These experiences have all enriched me,” she says, "in what they've revealed about the endless possibilities and complexities of human connection, as well as about the healing powers of writing."

Traxler has edited and published two regional history anthologies, Vintage and In Our Time, which collect the memories of people who came of age on the Great Plains between the years 1910 and 1975 (Smoky Hill River Press).

She is a past recipient of Ploughshares' Cohen Award; Nimrod’s Pablo Neruda Award; The Writer's Voice of New York City Open Voice Award for Short Fiction; the Hackney Literary Award for Short Fiction; Radcliffe’s Presidential Discretionary Award; a Kansas Literary Fellowship; 1994 and '99 Poetry Society of America Writers Magazine/​Emily Dickinson Award honors; the Alice Carter Award for Poetry from Kansas University; and the Georgia State University Award for Short Fiction. She is also a past Grand Prize winner of the International Imitation Hemingway Competition.

Traxler's poetry and fiction have appeared widely, including in The Nation, Slate, Agni, Ploughshares, The Boston Review, The Kenyon Review, Ms. Magazine, The Radcliffe Quarterly, Hanging Loose, Tikkun, Glimmer Train, The American Voice, The Los Angeles Times Literary Supplement, The San Francisco Chronicle, New Letters, and Ted Kooser's American Life in Poetry newspaper column.

Her essays have appeared in Newsweek, The Daily Beast, Boston University's AgniBlog, 3Quarks Daily, and the anthologies Night Errands: How Poets Use Dreams (University of Pittsburgh Press), and Grandmothers: Granddaughters Remember (Syracuse University Press). Her award-winning Hemingway parody was included in The Best of Bad Hemingway: Award Anthology (Mariner Books).

Traxler's poetry has been included in numerous anthologies, including the Best American Poetry series; Robert Pinsky's A Handbook of Heartbreak; Andrew Motion's A Ring of Words; e: the Emily Dickinson Award Anthology from Universities West Press; and she received special mention in the Pushcart Prize Anthology for her 7-poem sequence, "Finitudes," which originally appeared in New Letters.


Literary Agent: Gail Hochman, Brandt and Hochman Literary Agents, 1501 Broadway, New York, NY 10036

Patricia's first book, Blood Calendar, William Morrow

Selected Works

"Traxler holds us in the devastating thrill of freefall, half-past naming and this close to combustion. Her skill at balancing the tempting fixity of nouns and the reckless commotion of verbs is no less heart-rending than a principal ballerina's sustained pirouette; she leaves us spinning..." --Joseph Braun, The Lune, March 2016 issue
“These poems strike a thrilling balance between personal disclosure and the rigors of writing.”
Publishers Weekly
"Brings to mind Walt Whitman at his best, for Traxler has written an absorbing, haunting, feminine 'Song of Myself,'" --Victor Contoski, Abraxas
"A fierce and passionate collection!" --Publishers Weekly
From the Toronto Sun: “Bloody good—a compelling and beautifully written novel." ...and from Margot Livesey, author of The Missing World and The House on Fortune Street: “With her stunning first novel, Blood, Patricia Traxler plunges the reader into a world both familiar and eerie. Seldom have the twin obsessions of love and art been more vividly or intelligently portrayed...More than almost any other novel I've read, Blood captures the relationship between an artist and her work, a relationship that is also susceptible to jealousy and revision and love...What an elegant, suspenseful debut.”
Selected Short Stories
Now available on Amazon's Kindle as singles, these award-winning short stories are from Traxler's collection in process, which looks with an ironic and darkly humorous eye at romantic love, fidelity and infidelity, the politics of sex, the single life and marriage, and the question of when, if ever, it all begins to make sense.
Author interviews
Traxler talks about dividing her writing life between poetry and fiction; about the challenges a writer faces when living in a region so far "outside the glittering current"; and about the literary influences and life experiences that have shaped her perspective as a woman and a writer.

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