March 12, 2009

Allison Joseph creates sixth collection of poems

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Allison Joseph, poet and head of the creative writing graduate program in the English department at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, has a new book coming out and is a featured author in another one.

Steel Toe Books will publish “My Father’s Kites,” her sixth collection of poems. According to the press, Joseph’s was one of 56 manuscripts submitted during an open reading period. The collection is a sequence of 34 sonnets about Joseph’s father. For more information about Steel Toe Books, visit

Steel Toe Books will also publish SIUC MFA-alumnus Michael Meyerhofer’s collection of poems, “Blue Collar Eulogies.”

Joseph’s other books include “Worldly Pleasures,” “Imitation of Life,” “In Every Seam,” “Soul Train,” and “What Keeps Us Here.” In addition, her work appears in literary journals and publications nationwide.

Joseph is a featured author in “Writing the Future of Black America: Literature of the Hip-Hop Generation” by Daniel Grassian and available from The University of South Carolina Press.

The book explores the work of eight black writers -- not all of them poets -- and examines their writing in the context of their predecessors in the civil rights generation and in contrast to their “predominantly white contemporaries of Generation X.” For more information, visit

Joseph is a recipient of the John C. Zacharis First Book Prize, 1992 Women Poets Series Prize, Word Press Poetry Prize, an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in Poetry, as well as fellowships from Breadloaf and the Sewanee Writers Conference, among other awards.

When she isn’t writing, she is busy helping others write. She is editor and poetry editor of “Crab Orchard Review,” published by SIUC. She also directs the Young Writers Workshop, an annual summer writing program for high school-aged writers.

Joseph was born in London, England, and spent the first part of her childhood in Toronto, Canada. Her family moved to the Bronx borough of New York City. She studied at Kenyon University and Indiana University at Bloomington. She taught at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock before coming to SIUC in 1994.