Marty McConnell strives to help poets find their voice


Clarion Staff

Poet Marty McConnell was the featured reader at a Yahara Journal event held in the Intercultural Exchange in April

Poet and spoken-word artist Marty McConnell was a guest reader at Madison College on April 18, sharing selections from her new book, “when they say you can’t go home again, what they mean is you were never there.”

She was on campus as the guest of the Yahara Journal and creative writing instructor Matthew Guenette, who introduced her at the event.

Many of the works she shared at the event focused on the challenges of gender identity and gender oppression.

Her poems spoke to experiences that many in the audience could relate to – from checking where the exits are in every room to how sad it is that young women shouldn’t walk anywhere alone today.

Her powerful presentation showed her skill as a spoken word artist. McConnell is a seven-time National Poetry Slam Team member and was the 2012 winner of the National Underground Poetry Individual Competition.

On her website,, McConnell states, “Poetry leads us deeper into ourselves and from there, further out into the world with a keener understanding of our place in it. This is how poetry makes the world better.”

During her reading, it was clear that McConnell’s focus in her work is to call attention to social issues and to force readers or listeners to experience life from another person’s perspective.

McConnell earned her MFA from Sarah Lawrence College in New York. Her collection of poetry, “wine for a shotgun (2012),” was awarded a silver medal in the Independent Publisher Book Awards and was a finalist for the Audre Lorde Award.In addition, she has published the book “Gathering Voices: Creating a Community-Based Workshop (2018),” which reflects her work teaching others to write poetry. She is the co-founder of the literary non-profit louderARTS Project in New York and started Vox Ferus in Chicago.

According to her website, Vox Ferus offers workshops for “writers and performers interested in improving their craft by investing in and exploring others’ poetry as well as their own.” The monthly workshops are held once a month.