Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Joan Colby  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Poetry

Audience: Adult;

Born: 1939 in Chicago

-- Website --
-- Joan Colby on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

Colby was born and raised in Chicago and now lives in Elgin.

Biographical and Professional Information

Joan Colby has been widely published in journals including ''Poetry'', ''Atlanta Review'', ''GSU Review'', ''Portland Review'', ''South Dakota Review'', ''The Spoon River Poetry Review'', ''New York Quarterly'', ''the new renaissance'', ''Grand Street'', ''Epoch'', ''Mid-American Poetry Review'', ''Prairie Schooner'', ''Kansas Quarterly'', ''The Hollins Critic'', ''Minnesota Review'', ''Western Humanities Review'', ''College English'', ''Another Chicago Magazine'' and many others. Along with her published books listed below, Colby has also written the chapbooks ''Eleven Poems'', ''Dream Tree'', ''Chagall Poems'' and ''Beheading the Children''. She has a new chapbook ''Bittersweet'' forthcoming in 2014 from Main Street Rag. Colby's poems have also been published in various anthologies including: ''What Have You Lost'', ''Disenchantments:An Anthology of Modern Fairy Tale Poetry'', ''The Poet Dreaming in the Artist's House'' and ''Fine China: 20 Years of Poetry From Earth's Daughters''. Colby has been a columnist, reporter for the ''Elgin Daily Courier-News'', columnist for Copely News Service, Media Director for Amerad Advertising, reporter for Record Banner Newspapers, the editor of ''Illinois Racing News'' and ''The Equine Market'', and associate editor of ''Kentucky Review'' and ''FutureCycle Press''.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

Blue Woman Dancing in the Nerve : poems
ISBN: 093418402X

Alembic Press. 0

How the Sky Begins to Fall
ISBN: 0933180322

Ellis Pr. 1982

Book by Colby, Joan

The boundary waters (Damascus road)
ISBN: 0913614092

Charles Shahoud Hanna. 1982

The Lonely Hearts Killers
ISBN: 0933180888

Spoon River Poetry Pr. 1986

The Atrocity Book: Poems
ISBN: 0899240453

Lynx House Books. 1984

Dead Horses
ISBN: 1938853024

FutureCycle Press. 2012

Colby, Joan

Joan Colby: Selected Poems
ISBN: 1938853296

FutureCycle Press. 2013

Winner of the 2013 FutureCycle Poetry Book Prize. David Pichaske writes in the Foreword to this collection: "Thirty-five years is a long time in anyone’s career—long enough to see how things turned out. Long enough to allow us to draw some conclusions. Long enough to trace the arc of a career...." Joan Colby: Selected Poems represents a body of work "underwritten by an intelligence itself as fiery as it is sharp" (Philip Dacey), "both loud and haunting, both vivid and quiet as a falling stone" (Christina Zawadiwsky). Includes selections from Blue Woman Dancing in the Nerve (1979), Chagall Poems (1980), Dream Tree (1980), The Boundary Waters (1982), How the Sky Begins to Fall (1982), The Atrocity Book (1986), The Lonely Hearts Killers (1986), and Dead Horses (2012).

Properties of Matter
ISBN: 0615994288

Aldrich Press. 2014

Properties of Matter is that rare book that encompasses both the universal and the particular. Individual poems are metaphysical in tone, often anthropomorphic and elemental in imagery, and become, as the book progresses, a vast, collective exercise in metaphor. A reader need not die, like Audubon and Stubbs's specimens, to understand the true nature of the subject, but, I suggest, one reading will not be sufficient to truly appreciate the breadth and depth of this collection.
—Alan Catlin
“Round and calm,” like the moon that leads us into this gorgeous collection, Joan Colby’s detailed eye illuminates everything. The poems in Properties of Matter are lessons in how to observe and live in both the natural world that surrounds us and the inner world that moves us through the days and seasons of our lives. “Phosphorescent as ghosts”, her words will draw you in. And you will be glad. Gentle, honest, unflinching, and full of mystery, this book is a must read.
—Linda Blaskey, The Broadkill Review
In Joan Colby’s new collection of poems Properties of Matter we are shadowed by what we only hear about. Like eyes in a forest of night, these poems don’t miss a muscle we move as the pages turn. As one line suggests, I feel like I’m “Everywhere here / In the path of disaster”. To read the work again is to read it for the first time, and as Colby insists, “Given time, such darkness is endless.”
—George Bishop

The Wingback Chair
ISBN: 1938853598

FutureCycle Press. 2014

The Wingback Chair, Colby's fourteenth volume of poetry, contains new poems that illustrate significant moments in her life as well as the inexorable progression of her poetry. The subjects range from the personal elements of the title poem to the historical, social, and cultural interweavings of the textile poems.

ISBN: 1941783082

Glass Lyre Press. 2015

Years drain the energy from some poets, but Joan Colby's work is as fresh and creative as ever, perhaps more so. Ribcage showcases the poet's rich imagination on subjects attempting to reconcile body and mind. The first section of the book ("The Body in Question") extends metaphors from various body parts (heart, blood, nerves, finger and hands, etc.), and the last section ("The Mind at Play") continues with a rich lyric and imagery often sung from a mystic sensibility. Humor and irony are also part of the poet's toolbox, as in "Chewed to Meat Hooks" in which the purposes of the hand are revealed: Which leads us to the signifier/Insolent as a poker. To be used/For motorists who cut me off. Particularly in the last section, the imagery carves itself a place in the memory because it shocks with profound truth, as in my favorite, "The Nature of Freedom," which begins with "An open door is terrifying." Thankfully, the poet has opened doors into views we need to see. -Robert S. King, author of Developing a Photograph of God

ISBN: 1938853903

FutureCycle Press. 2015

The poems in Joan Colby’s chapbook BROKE were engendered by an accident in which several of the author’s bones were broken. This led her to contemplate aspects of the word “broke.” Due to a badly fractured wrist, the poems were laboriously printed with the non-dominant hand, which captures how the fact of brokenness, like the word itself, insinuates both damage and repair. Ironically, X rays of the tension-wire hardware used to secure Colby’s shattered kneecap were eerily identical to the symbol for extinction shown on the chapbook’s cover.


Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in Literature

Illinois Arts Council Literary Award, Stone County Award for Poetry, Rhino Poetry Award, the new renaissance Award for Poetry. Finalist in the 2007 GSU Poetry Contest. Honorable mention in the 2008 and 2010 James Hearst Poetry Contest(North American Review)

, Finalist in 2009 Margie Editors Choice Contest, Finalist in 2009 and 2012 Nimrod International Pablo Neruda Prize. 2013 Finalist in Atlanta Review International Poetry Contest. Illinois Arts Council Literary Award 2007 Selected Poems

Speaking Engagements

Speaking Engagement Availability (Yes)

Colby can be contacted via her email address or US Post at 10N226 Muirhead Road Elgin, IL 60124