Paula Bonnell


From advance praise for tales retold:

"In this remarkable collection Bonnell enters sideways, as it were, stories and histories
that we thought we knew well.
Lucid and lithe, her words tilt us into new regions of possibility."

-- Peter Schwenger, author of At the Borders of Sleep: On Liminal Literature

"In tales retold, Paula Bonnell burrows inside familiar tales from myth, legend, and popular culture, reimagining them to reveal insights that often amuse and always surprise. I admire Bonnell's subtlety . . . These are poems worth pondering."

-- Elaine Ford, author of The American Wife: Stories


for more, click the book's title just below:


For "free samples" of Paula Bonnell's work, see links below.

Here are some links to connect you with poems (and more) published online:


To read other poems, scroll down to the "Quick Links" section of the sidebar at your right.


RADIO INTERVIEW of Paula Bonnell by Gregory Josselyn

Essay about Szymborska's poems as translated into English


What have some readers said about Before the Alphabet?
You can see several quotes from members of a book group in California by taking the blue link for Before the Alphabet at the top of the sidebar to your right. Then scroll down to the heading "reactions to Before the Alphabet".


Anywhere in the site, clicking on the blue titles will take you somewhere else where more is given for the poem or book.

It's a little like chutes and ladders.

For a report on an April 18, 2013 reading in Boston, and for work -- two poems, an essay-- and tidbits, just go to the

In the window page via the tab words in the blue bar above.

For more poems, see QUICK LINKS, at right, below.

For an overview of all three Selected Works, you are invited to visit BOOKS.

Quick Links will take you directly to places in the site where you can find poems currently posted and places elsewhere where you can buy the books or read more about them and their poems.

Mi casa es su casa. Please make yourself at home.

Winner of the John Ciardi Prize for Poetry

     Selected by Mark Jarman

In selecting Airs & Voices for the Ciardi Prize, poet and critic Mark Jarman said,
The voice in Airs & Voices is fresh and original. Though the poet never labors to be significant, even the slightest poem lingers in memory. Wallace Stevens's thoughtfulness is present, but so is his playfulness. Kenneth Koch's playfulness is here, but so is his thoughtfulness. Whether speaking as various snowmen in "New Song" or as parts of a household in "Domestic Opera," the poet finds just the right expression for the subject, with a warmth and good humor that are in short supply nowadays. Sometimes the compassion is startling, as in "Elegy for an Unlikeable Sister-in-Law." Yet an austerity can take hold as well. "The Voices" makes us listen again to the things we said in response to 9/​11. Finally, to paraphrase one of the most moving poems in Airs & Voices, "History and a House," this poetry is "so good. It must have happened before." And yet it all seems brand new.

More about Airs & Voices:

In October 2008,
USA Book News selected Airs & Voices as one of seven finalists
for its Best Poetry Book 2008 Award.

To buy now, click on the blue link to the publisher, BkMk Press, in the sidebar (below the titles of individual poems), to arrive at the publisher's catalogue page for Airs & Voices. To buy online, click on the little gray "Order" box at the upper right-hand corner of the page. Or you can call BkMk at (816) 235-2558 and order the book over the phone if you prefer.

Other ways to buy Airs & Voices include calling (800) 799-4148, the Carleton College Bookstore. Both Airs & Voices and Message are in stock and both books have Carleton extras included -- at no extra charge,
Also available from Grolier Poetry Book shop by phone (617) 547-4648, fax (617) 547-4230, or e-mail grolierpoetry@​

In addition, you can buy Airs & Voices online by clicking the link to Small Press Distributors (in California) the right-hand sidebar (just above the titles of individual poems) under the "Quick Links" heading.

Would you like to learn more about the book itself?

Richard Wilbur called Airs & Voices "enchanting," adding that it deals "subtly with painful or touching things,
as in 'History & a House.'"


Maxine Kumin said Airs & Voices is "full of quirky insights that keep Bonnell's poems fresh and interesting."


"A clear, subtle, witty, and authentic voice," said X. J. Kennedy. " 'The Voices' may be one of the wisest comments on the catastrophe of 9/​11 an American poet has made."

Read the full text of these three poets' quotes by taking the link below:

$13.95, 78-page trade paperback format

A description of the poems in Airs & Voices appears on the Books page.

chapbooks (the proverbial slender book of verse)

In a handsome perfect-bound format, tales retold is poems giving new takes on stories from myth, fables, folk & fairy tales, even 20th-century news. Principal and minor characters offer their perspectives on what's happening.

"The life of the mind begins here."

-- Megan Marshall

author of Margaret Fuller: A New American Life and The Peabody Sisters: Three Women Who Ignited American Romanticism

"The intelligent child [Bonnell] conjures up has a mind as supple and lively as these ecstatic, wry poems."

-- Miriam Levine

author of The Dark Opens and Devotion, a memoir

"The words a story in poems on the title page of Paula Bonnell's Before the Alphabet made me rejoice for narrative in contemporary poetry. Like all stories, these poems reveal a deeper story beneath the surface. I value this work greatly."

-- Nick Samaras

author of Hands of the Saddlemaker and American Psalm, World Psalm

poetry books
The world as peaceable kingdom is interrupted by wars and rumors of wars.
Lyric and narrative poems, including "Eurydice," a re-telling of the myth
poetry collection manuscript
This as-yet unpublished collection was a finalist in the National Poetry Series. "Plain Speech" and "Scenic Postcard" -- both reachable through the Quick Links below -- are from Abracadabra.

Quick Links - to PB poems on the web & how to buy Before the Alphabet