"This is how the mind frays.
How a mad girl pops and sizzles."
Jeanann Verlee is a poet, editor, and former punk rocker who collects tattoos and wears polka dots. She is a 2017 NEA Poetry Fellow and the author of Said the Manic to the Muse (Write Bloody Publishing, 2015) and Racing Hummingbirds (2010), which was awarded a silver medal in the Independent Publisher Book Awards. Her third book, prey, was named first runner-up for the 2016 Benjamin Saltman Poetry Award and will be published by Black Lawrence Press in 2018. She has also been awarded the Third Coast Poetry Prize and the Sandy Crimmins National Prize for Poetry. Her work appears in Adroit, BOAAT, Rattle, PANK, and BuzzFeed Reader, among others, and has been anthologized in various publications, including Uncommon Core: Contemporary Poems for Learning and Living, The Courage Anthology: Daring Poems for Gutsy Girls, and Looking for the Enemy: The Eternal Internal Gender Wars of Our Sisters Anthology. She was first runner-up for the Indiana Review Poetry Prize and has received multiple nominations for the Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net, and Bettering American Poetry. Verlee worked as poetry editor for Union Station Magazine, For Some Time Now: Performance Poets of New York City, and Winter Tangerine Review: Fragments of Persephone, in addition to a number of individual collections.
Verlee has represented New York City ten times at the National Poetry Slam, Individual World Poetry Slam, and Women of the World Poetry Slam under both Urbana Poetry Slam and The louderARTS Project. Verlee was an NPS Finalist while representing louderARTS and has twice earned the title of Urbana iWPS Champion. She is former director of the Urbana Poetry Slam reading series, where she also served as writing and performance coach. Verlee performs and facilitates workshops at schools, theatres, libraries, bookstores, and dive bars across North America.
Educated in theatre performance and creative writing, Verlee was co-author and performing member of national touring company, The Vortex: Conflict, Power, and Choice!, has been commissioned by universities for guerrilla theatre events spotlighting domestic violence under MSUD’s Theatre for Social Change, and was a charter member of New York City’s annual Spoken Word Almanac Project. An enthusiast of letter-writing campaigns and handmade protest signs, Verlee has also devoted many years to animal rights and social justice, and has organized and participated in numerous social actions.
Her first poem was drafted in pencil on the inside cover of a collection of Grimm’s Fairy Tales at the age of seven. She won her first writing contest for a short story at the age of eleven and in the same year became the youngest recipient of Parade Magazine’s Young American Ambassadors prize for an essay. Hoping to echo S.E. Hinton’s young author milestone, Verlee was determined to write a novel by the age of sixteen. With three drafts completed by the autumn of her fifteenth year, she almost reached her goal. Instead, however, she found herself blindsided by the insurmountable distraction of tattooed boys, dying her mohawk pink, and navigating the life-altering onset of bipolar disorder. A hardcopy of the unfinished manuscript remains in her apartment and she swears she will return to it one day.
Verlee lives in New York City with her moonlove, Ian Khadan, and their rescue pup, Aulë. She believes in you.