Illinois Authors

The Illinois Center for the Book banner

Jessica Lee Walsh

Born: 1974 in Ludington, Michigan
Pen Name: Jessica L. Walsh

Connection to Illinois: Walsh moved to Illinois in 2001 while finishing her graduate studies and teaching at North Central College. After taking her current teaching position at Harper College in 2002, she moved from Chicago to the northwest suburbs.

Biography: Jessica Walsh is a poet and Professor of English at Harper College in suburban Chicago. She is also the blog manager of Agape Editions, so check it out too! Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in RHINO, Tinderbox, Sundog Literature, Midwestern Gothic, Ninth Letter online, Whale Road Review, Crab Creek Review, Yellow Chair review, and many others.

  • Abbie M. Copps Poetry Competition, First Place, 2007
  • Nominated for Best New Poets, 2012
  • Crab Creek Review Poetry Contest, Honorable Mention, 2012;
  • Second Place, Illinois Emerging Writers Competition, Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Award, 2014

Primary Literary Genre(s): Poetry

Primary Audience(s): Adult readers


Selected Titles

Book of Gods & Grudges
ISBN: 1941783899 OCLC:

Glass Lyre Press 2022

Jessica Walsh's Book of Gods and Grudges tells a tale of generational trauma and transcendence. She declares early on that "My first kin were killers," people for whom "burnout was a luxury" they could not afford. Her speaker struggles through illness and sobriety and grappling with God as a problem she tries to solve as she finds her own calling. The poems are unflinchingly honest and impeccably crafted. They show us what it means to stay "flagrantly alive." -Grace Bauer, author of Unholy Heart: New and Selected Poems

How to Break My Neck
ISBN: 1942004206 OCLC: 939532374

Poetry. The poems in Jessica Walsh's HOW TO BREAK MY NECK are alive, visceral, and softly twitching. Each section beginning with different famous last words, these poems interrogate hard-hitting themes of purpose, mortality, and legacy with beautifully playful language. Whether discussing summer camp or a shark in a tsunami, these poems illuminate what it feels like to live, to be breakable.

The List of Last Tries
ISBN: 099878107X OCLC: 1104140564

“Jessica Walsh’s The List of Last Tries is a miracle of focus, a sustained gothic nursery rhyme that describes a girl’s coming of age and coming into power, for which she is shunned and exiled as freak, witch, and murderer. This collection is a captivating female picaresque, each poem taking a step deeper into marginality’s fierce power.” — Diane Seuss, Still Life with Two Dead Peacocks and a Girl, Four- Legged Girl, Pulitzer Prize Finalist