Joyelle McSweeney

Mcsweeney Fern Author Photo

Professor of English
Director of Creative Writing Program

Specialty: Poetry, Prose, Translation, Theory

Degrees: BA magna cum laude, Harvard; MPhil, Oxford University; MFA University of Iowa Writers Workshop

As a poet, prose writer, playwright, critic and publisher, Joyelle McSweeney is interested in the ways in which writing moves among genres, languages, media, and materials, from sound into language and back again. Her most recent book is Toxicon and Arachne (Nightboat Books, 2020), a double collection investigating the toxic and the sublime, grief and prophecy. Her critical book, The Necropastoral: Poetry, Media, Occults (University of Michigan Poets on Poetry series, 2015) examines these concerns against a backdrop of goth/Anthropocene ecopoetics. Her scholarly, poetic and teaching interests include poetry, prose, drama, voice, sound, performance, genre, poetic, narrative and dramatic form, politics, media, violence, diction, translation, the Gothic and the necropastoral. Her play Dead Youth, or, the Leaks won the inaugural Leslie Scalapino Prize for Innovative Women Playwrights. McSweeney is the author of six books of poetry and prose, most of which also contain plays: Salamandrine8 Gothics (Tarpaulin Sky Press, 2012); Percussion Grenade (Fence Books, 2012); Flet (Fence, 2008); Nylund, the Sarcographer (Tarpaulin Sky, 2007); The Commandrine (Fence, 2004); and The Red Bird, which was selected by Allen Grossman to inaugurate the Fence Modern Poets Series in 2001.

With Johannes Göransson, McSweeney founded and edits Action Books, an international press for poetry and translation. The press focuses on modern and contemporary works from Latin America, Asia, the US and Europe, including such major authors as Hiromi Itō, Kim Hyesoon, Aase Berg and Raul Zurita.  Action Books seeks to move poetry and poetics from other literary cultures into the center of US poetry discussions and undermine the nationalist rubrics under which literature is marketed and discussed. In addition to the University of Notre Dame, McSweeney has taught in the MFA program at the University of Alabama and as a Visiting Associate Professor of Poetry at the Iowa Writers Workshop


Recent Publications

  • Toxicon and Arachne.  Nightboat Books, 2020.
  • The Necropastoral: Poetry, Media, Occults. University of Michigan Poets on Poetry series, 2015.
  • Dead Youth, or, the Leaks. Litmus Press, 2014 (play).
  • Salamandrine, 8 Gothics.  Vermont: Tarpaulin Sky Press, 2012 (stories and play)
  • Percussion Grenade. New York: FenceBooks, 2012. (poems and play)
  • “The Warm Mouth. ” My Mother She Killed Me, My Father She Ate Me: Forty New Fairy Tales. New York: Penguin, 2010. (play)
  • Flet.  New York: Fence Books, 2008. (novel)
  • Nylund, The Sarcographer.  Vermont: Tarpaulin Sky Press, 2007. (novel)
  • The Commandrine and Other Poems. New York: FenceBooks, 2004. (poems and play)
  • The Red Bird. New York: Fence Books, 2002. (poems)


Contact Information
258 Decio Hall
Notre Dame, IN 46556
(574) 631-9870

Postal address
Department of English
233 Decio Hall
Notre Dame, IN 46556