Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Kelly Norman Ellis  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Poetry

Audience: Adult;

Born: in Belleville, Illinois

-- Kelly Norman Ellis on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

Kelly Norman Ellis is an assistant professor of English at Chicago State University. Currently, she lives on Chicago’s south side.

Biographical and Professional Information

Kelly Norman Ellis is an associate professor of English and director of the MFA in Creative Writing Program at Chicago State University. She is the author of ''Tougaloo Blues'' and co-editor of ''Spaces Between Us: Poetry, Prose and Art on AIDS/HIV'', both from Third World Press. Her work has appeared in Crab Orchard Review, Sou'Wester, PMS poemmemoirstory, Tidal Basin Review, Calyx, and The Ringing Ear. In 2010 Essence Magazine voted her one of their forty favorite poets. She is a Cave Canem Poetry Fellow and founding member of the Affrilachian Poets.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

Tougaloo Blues
ISBN: 0883782464

Third World Press. 2003

This collection of poems explores the author's southern roots through a blues/narrative voice and revisits her Mississippi youth, while revealing the contemporary voice of a Black woman searching for place and community outside of her southern past.

Offerings of Desire
ISBN: 0985287713

Aquarius Press/Willow Books. 2012

Poetry. African American Studies. "In Kelly Norman Ellis's long-awaited second collection, a grand cinema of black life is honey-beamed and balanced on a 'nipple of coal.' Somewhere in the middle of turning these pages, the reader will helplessly rise and mercilessly hunt for dirty rice and Bill Withers. It is indeed the poet's job to save something, but Ellis does more—she swears to paper a luscious book so rich with black zest and drylongso that each page sets high our thirst for all that is human, longed for and inexplicable."—Nikky Finney

"Every stanza in this fierce and formidable collection strikes a sweet, keening note for the colored girl—the front-row-center Sunday morning worshipper, the fast gal craving the jukebox on Saturday night, the grandmama arced over a stove-top staple, the precocious nappy-headed chile tripping the double-dutch line. With OFFERINGS OF DESIRE, Kelly Norman Ellis has graced us all with a gift that is nothing short of a miracle. She has blessed the sisterhood with a soundtrack."—Patricia Smith

Speaking Engagements

Speaking Engagement Availability (No)