Melanie Neilson


Ridgewood, NY 11385

Author's Bio

Born in Humboldt, Tennessee, Melanie Neilson studied visual arts, literature and writing at UC San Diego and combined media at Hunter College. She is the author of several collections of poetry, including Palmyra Pieces (forthcoming), Civil Noir, Natural Facts, and Prop and Guide. Since 2015, Neilson has collaborated with poet Jessica Grim, co-writing a book-length poem, The Autobiography of Jean Foos, (expected completion September 2018). Excerpts have appeared in Conjunctions, October 2017, and BOMB Magazine, Winter 2016. / /
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 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 poetry readings and workshops in library branches. Neilson is the editor of Libraries of Invention, a workbook of poetic experiments and interventions forthcoming in 2020.

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."
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 & Prizes

Natural Facts (Potes & Poets Press, 1997)
Civil Noir (Roof Books, 1991)
Prop and Guide (Figures Press, 1991)
Prizes won: 

PRIZES (LITERARY/poet, editor, curator):   New York Foundation for the Arts Fellow in Poetry. Brooklyn Arts Council Individual Grant for Poetry. American Media Grant for Poetry, NYC. Artist Residency Fellowship, Yaddo, Saratoga, NY. Artist Residency, Cummington Community of the Arts, Cummington, MA. Fund for Poetry, NYC. Canada Arts Council (Literature) for "Canadian Poets In NYC" Segue Reading Series at Ear Inn. New York State Council for the Arts (Literature Publications, Big Allis Magazine) NYC, 1989 - 1998. Artists Space Individual Artist Grant. ACADEMIC: Hunter College Graduate School William Graf Study Abroad Scholarship (Cinema & Poetry Project). University of California, San Diego Regents Undergraduate Merit Scholarship. PRIZES (NONFICTION TELEVISION/Producer/writer): 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.

More Information

Gives readings: 
Travels for readings: 
Prefers to work with: 
Fluent in: 
Born in: 
Humboldt, TN
Raised in: 
San Diego, CA
Please note: All information in the Directory is provided by the listed writers or their representatives.
Last update: May 10, 2018