Julie Danho O’Connell’s chapbook, Six Portraits, was published in 2014 by Slapering Hol Press, and her poetry has appeared in Pleiades, Barrow Street, Poet Lore, and New Ohio Review, among other journals. She has received a 2015 MacColl Johnson Fellowship and several RISCA fellowships in poetry. We asked her a few questions about her life and art-making in Rhode Island for our series, Rhode Island Cultural Anchors.
RISCA: Give us a brief overview of your day yesterday- what did you do in both your personal and professional life.
JDC: Yesterday, like most weekdays, I woke up at 5:30 so I’d have time to write before heading off to work. Before I started writing, I read a few pages of Colosseum by Katie Ford, one of my favorite poets. Then I worked on revising a draft about a sculpture, Chrysanthemum and Dragonfly, that I recently saw at the RISD Museum. By 7:15, I was rushing out the door to catch the bus to my job in downtown Providence. I’m an editor at Blue Cross in Providence, so I spent the next eight hours writing about healthcare with other grammar geeks. After I got home, I played (and lost) a game of Scattergories with my husband and daughter.
RISCA: Why do you make Rhode Island your home, and how did you end up here?
JDC: I grew up in Cumberland, then went to undergrad in Pennsylvania and grad school (for poetry) in Ohio. My family is here, so my husband and I came back to get married and ended up staying. Being away and choosing to come back—and bringing my husband back with me—made me look at my home anew. I work next to Waterplace Park, which is such a surprising and beautiful place. Sometimes, walking in, I try to see the city through a tourist’s eyes. If I were visiting, I wouldn’t want to leave.
RISCA: What are you the most excited about right now in your art practice?
JDC: I’m excited and grateful to be a 2019 RISCA fellowship recipient. Poetry books are primarily published through contests, and the fellowship gives me the funding to submit my manuscript widely as well as focus on creating new work. I also appreciate the opportunity to meet other artists and experience the amazing work happening right here in our state.
RISCA: What is the biggest challenge for you in your art life?
JDC: Time, definitely. I work full-time and have an eight-year-old daughter, so the days fill up quickly. In addition to writing and revising, I try to carve out time to submit poems and my book manuscript for publication. My husband David O’Connell is also a poet (and a RISCA fellowship recipient), and we help each other make writing a priority. He’s also a great editor, which helps tremendously in my revision process.
You can learn more about Julie and follow her work at her website, https://www.juliedanho.com/.