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Poet and award-winning writer Kathleen Rooney to read at Gage Gallery

Posted: 11/09/2012
Kathleen Rooney, a founding editor of non-profit publisher Rose Metal Press and a Roosevelt University writer-in-residence for 2012-13, will read from her latest work, Robinson Alone, at 5 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 12 at Roosevelt’s Gage Gallery, 18 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago. (Above, Rooney wears a hairstache in honor of Robinson Alone character Kees.)

A native of West Virginia and currently a Chicago resident, Rooney received the Gatewood Prize in 2007 from Switchback Books for her poetry collection, Oneiromance (an epithalamion) and was named one of the Best New Voices of 2006 by Random House, which included her essay, "Live Nude Girl" in its anthology Twentysomething Essays by Twentysomething Writers. She is also the recipient of the Ruth Lilly Fellowship, one of the largest awards offered to aspiring poets in the United States.

Robinson Alone, a novel in poems released by Gold Wake Press in October, is based on the life and work of Weldon Kees and his alter ego Robinson. Through her protagonist Robinson, Rooney imagines the adult life of Kees up until his mysterious disappearance in 1955. After leaving small-town life in Nebraska for New York City, Robinson goes on a cross-country journey before police discover his Plymouth Savoy abandoned on the Golden Gate Bridge. The book is driven by Robinson’s transience and an underlying desire to escape the world entirely.

“Kathleen Rooney’s Robinson Alone is a blood brother to the historical novel,” said fellow poet A. Van Jordan, author of the Anisfield-Wolf Award-winning book M-A-C-N-O-L-I-A. “She reminds us that epic stories started with the poem, and she does the tradition proud with her formal flexibility and attention to detail.”

Rooney is also the author of Reading with Oprah: the Book Club That Changed America (University of Arkansas Press, 2005), a book-length version of "Live Nude Girl" titled Live Nude Girl: My Life as an Object (University of Arkansas Press, 2009) and For You, For You I Am Trilling These Songs (Counterpoint, 2010). She also has a chapbook, The Kind of Beauty That Has Nowhere to Go, forthcoming from Hyacinth Girl Press in 2013.

Sponsored by Roosevelt University’s Creative Writing Program, the reading is free and open to the public and is part of the program’s continuing Gage Gallery Reading Series. To learn more about Rooney, visit For more on the reading series, visit the Creative Writing Program’s blog at or contact program director Peggy Shinner at