Patricia Dobler was born in Middletown, Ohio in 1939. She is the author of UXB (Mill Hunk Books, 1991) and Talking to Strangers (University of Wisconsin Press, 1986), which won the Brittingham Prize in Poetry; a chapbook, Forget Your Life, was published by the University of Nebraska Press. She also completed a third full-length collection, entitled, Now.

Her poems have appeared in such publications as Mid-American Review, The Ohio Review, Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, and Southern Poetry Review. Her work has been anthologized in A Gathering of Poets, A New Geography of Poets, The Carnegie Mellon Anthology of Poetry, Working Classics, Vital Signs, Anthology of Magazine Verse & Yearbook of American Poetry and others.

She received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, fellowships from the Corporation of Yaddo and Villa Montalvo and a Pushcart Poetry prize.

She lived in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and taught for many years at Carlow University, where she directed the Women's Creative Writing Center and the Madwomen in the Attic Writing Workshops. She died July 24, 2004. After her death, her Collected Poems** was published by Autumn House Press in 2005. 


For all their differences, when I think of Pat, I sometimes think of Flannery O’Connor. The tough-mindedness—the passion—the spiritual life—the humor—and of course, they were two absolute originals.

They were also two who were well acquainted with illness. And who had an enormous hunger for life, and for art; and who died too young. . . What grew in her was mystery, an her thirst to drink in deeper and deeper histories, and also life ‘outside of history.’

Jean Valentine (from the Introduction to Collected Poems)

From Collected Poems:

Her Return

Sappho turns herself over
as if she herself is a garden
to dig into and turn, turn again.
Glistening and restless,

she is what lifts to the light
after the great fire has left
a world half-consumed so that
outlines of garden

benches, what had been real trees,
seem real until she breathes on them.
They shudder and collapse,
ashes to ashes.

Among the ruins and the bones
she will be heard, torn, interrupted
and brief, about letting
go without breaking.

– Patricia Dobler

**Collected Poems is part of the Autumn House Press Poetry Series edited by Michael Simms. For ordering information, contact Autumn House Press at