Molly Peacock is a poet, biographer, essayist, and short fiction writer whose multi-genre literary life has taken her from New York City to Toronto, from poetry to prose, from words to words-and-pictures, and from lyric self-examination to curiosity about the lives of others. She is the author of the best-selling biography The Paper Garden: Mrs. Delany Begins Her Life’s Work at 72 (McClelland & Stewart in Canada, Scribe in Australia and New Zealand; Bloomsbury in the US and UK ). Beginning her literary life as a poet, she has published six books of poetry, including The Second Blush (McClelland & Stewart; W.W. Norton and Company) and Cornucopia: New and Selected Poems (McClelland & Stewart; W.W. Norton and Company).
Her poetry is included in The Oxford Book of American Poetry as well as Canadian anthologies. Among her other works are a memoir, Paradise, Piece By Piece, and How To Read a Poem & Start a Poetry Circle. As well, she is the editor of a collection of creative non-fiction, The Private I: Privacy in a Public World, and the co-editor of Poetry in Motion: One Hundred Poems from the Subways and Buses. Peacock inaugurated and serves as the General Editor for the Best Canadian Poetry in English.
Molly Peacock’s first foray into fiction is Alphabetique: 26 Characteristic Fictions with illustrations by Kara Kosaka (McClelland & Stewart, November 2014).
Peacock also wrote and performed in a one-woman staged monologue in poems, The Shimmering Verge, produced by Femme Fatale Productions, which she performed in theatres throughout North America, including an off-Broadway showcase. She has read her poetry at the Library of Congress, the Unterberg Poetry Center of the 92nd Street Y (New York City), and Harbourfront Centre (Toronto), as well as at numerous colleges, universities, and libraries in Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom.
A dynamic speaker, she has spread the word about late-life creativity, poetry, and the artist’s life from The Art Gallery of Ontario to the Barnes Museum in Philadelphia, from NPR to the CBC. She is a subject of a documentary film by Renee McCormick, A Life Outside Convention.
Molly is from a blue-collar and farming family with roots both in Canada and the United States. She was born in Buffalo, New York, received a B.A. magna cum laude from Harpur College (Binghamton University) and an M.A. with honors from The Writing Seminars at The Johns Hopkins University. A dual American-Canadian citizen, she now lives with her husband, James Joyce scholar Michael Groden, in Toronto, though she maintains contact with her former home by conducting a seminar at the Unterberg Poetry Center of the 92nd Street Y in New York City every winter.
Among her honors are awards from The Leon Levy Center for Biography (City University of New York Graduate Center), the Canada Council for the Arts, the Danforth Foundation, Ingram Merrill Foundation, Woodrow Wilson Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, and New York State Council on the Arts. Widely anthologized, her poems appear in The Oxford Book of American Poetry, The Best of the Best American Poetry, and A Formal Feeling Comes as well as in leading literary journals such as The New Yorker, Poetry, The Literary Review of Canada, The New Criterion, Canadian Notes and Queries, Contemporary Verse 2, The Southwest Review, and The Yale Review. Her essay “Passion Flowers in Winter,” which was selected by David Foster Wallace for inclusion in The Best American Essays 2007, grew into The Paper Garden, a #1 Bestseller in Canada, a New York Times reviewed biography in the United States, and an Economist Book of the Year in the UK and Ireland. It was published as well in Australia and New Zealand.
Peacock’s poetry is the subject of a monograph by Jason Guriel, Molly Peacock: A Critical Introduction (2014, Story Line Press). Her literary papers are located at the Binghamton University Library.
Passionate about public service for literature, she helped create Poetry in Motion on New York City’s subways and buses, and, when she immigrated to Canada, inaugurated The Best Canadian Poetry Series, bringing poetry to a wider public. She served as Poet-in-Residence at the American Poets’ Corner (Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, New York) and President of the Poetry Society of America, as well as a Graduate Mentor (now Emerita) on the faculty of the Spalding University Low-Residency Master of Fine Arts program.
Always fascinated by the creative process, Molly Peacock has privately mentored a generation of emerging writers, working one-to-one with poets and memoirists throughout the English-speaking world and now sparking online literary goal groups as part of her Mutual Muse project.