Melanie Neilson

Ridgewood, Queens, NY 11385

Author's Bio

Melanie Neilson was born in Tennessee, raised in California, and has lived in New York City for 30 years. She earned a BA at University of California, San Diego and an MFA in Combined Media at Hunter College. She has published three collections of poetry, Civil Noir, Natural Facts, and forthcoming, Palmyra Pieces, and two chapbooks. Forthcoming in 2016: Poe Cameo, a chapbook, and Raiders of the Lost Observation Deck, Three Lectures. Also known for her important work as an editor and publisher, Neilson edited and co-founded the journal Big Allis in New York City with poet Jessica Grim. The magazine generated a dynamic forum for contemporary writing by emerging and established avant garde and experimental poets with a focus on innovative poetry by women. Big Allis Magazine is digitally reissued via Eclipse, a free online archive focusing on digital facsimiles of the most radical small-press writing from the last quarter century, January 2016. ( In 2013 Neilson launched Library Pilot, a multi-year residency in the Brooklyn Public Library system. She hosts a reading series and teaches at library branches. The residency will be documented in an anthology of essays, interviews, and experiments. With her long-time collaborator Jessica Grim, Neilson is currently co-authoring The Autobiography of Jean Foos. The book-length poem unfolds to focus on the lives and times of three collaborators. The debut excerpt recently appeared in BOMB Magazine, Winter 2016. ( Sianne Ngai writes of Neilson's recent collection: "Palmyra Pieces will haunt you with its spirit tapping, disembodied hearts, and Hollywood ghosts; it will make you hear Frank O’Hara, Paul Verlaine, Bugs Bunny, country music, Gertrude Stein, and the noise of the East River all at once. It is a mirage you want to stay in. It is one of the best books I’ve read this decade." Her previous book, Natural Facts, was described by Rae Armantrout as "a beautiful and scary book. Neilson presents us with dazzling conundrums. This book is made of eerie harmonies and wrenched homilies." SELECTED PUBLICATIONS (Anthologies): Saints of Hysteria: A Half-Century of Collaborative American Poetry, ed. David Trinidad; Inventory:Object Anthology, ed. Robert Fitterman; American Poetry States of the Art, Conjunctions 35, ed. Bradford Morrow, Bard College. French poetry in translation: Twenty-two New (to North America) French Poets, eds. Stacy Doris and Norma Cole, Raddle Moon. Moving Borders: Three Decades of Innovative Writing by Women, ed. Mary Margaret Sloan, Talisman House Publishers. Out of Everywhere: Linguistically Innovative Poetry by Women in North America and the UK, ed. Maggie O'Sullivan, Reality Street Editions, London. Ten American Poets, TXT, Bilingual Edition (English/French), eds. Charles Bernstein and Susan Howe; trans., Raymond Federman, BrusselS. (Journals:) The Brooklyn Rail; Conjunctions; Aerial; HOW2; Raddle Moon; New American Writing; Hole Magazine; Writing; Evening Will Come Poetics Journal; American Letters & Commentary; Bombay Gin; Chain; Poetry Project Newsletter; Shiny; Object; Washington Review; Boundary Conversations; West Coast Line; Talisman; Tripwire.

Publications and Prizes

Civil Noir
(Roof Books, 1991)
, Natural Facts
(Potes & Poets Press, 1997)
Prop and Guide
(The Figures Press, 1991)
Prizes Won: 
Poetry: American Media Grant, NYC. Artist Residency Fellowship, Yaddo, Saratoga, NY.Artist Residency, Cummington Community of the Arts, Cummington, MA. Fund for Poetry, NYC. Canada Arts Council Literature Program (reading series curator), Ottawa, Ontario. New York Foundation for the Arts, grant recipient in Poetry. Brooklyn Arts Council, grant recipient in Poetry. New York State Council for the Arts, NYC, 1989-1998. Hunter College Graduate School William Graf Travel Scholarship. Artists Space Individual Artist Grant. University of California Regents Undergraduate Scholarship. Nonfiction Television: Society of Professional Journalists Deadline Club Award. International Film and Video Festival. Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Informational Series, Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, for TV Nation.

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San Diego, CA
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Last updated: Feb 17, 2016