Eleanor Swanson

Eleanor Swanson

Exiles and Expatriates

Winner of Prize Americana, Exiles and Expatriates is a short story collection that explores the difficulty of human relationships. Author Eleanor Swanson weaves through tales of joy, love, heartbreak, loss, and loneliness with her signature prose, both musical and magical, pulsing with the blood of life.

I know how men in exile feed on dreams of hope.
—Agamemenon, Aeschylus

Trembling in the Bones

A Commorative Edition Honoring the 100th Anniversary of
the Ludlow Massacre

One of America’s jarring and bloody conflicts comes to life in this poetry collection that marks the Colorado coal mining wars of the early 1900s. Eleanor Swanson’s verse remembers the people who labored to harvest fuel for the Industrial Revolution, and culminates in the shameful Ludlow Massacre. Thoroughly researched, Trembling in the Bones allows us to step back in time, to imagine the hopes and laments of people who were trampled without remorse, and in the name of progress.

Memory's Rooms

“Every door in this hand-crafted house of poems opens into a room inhabited by possibility: Beings whom some would call imperfect but for whom we wish words and wings. Travelers who remain unbound by landscape or ultimate destination. The once-living who fade from photographs but not from the imagination. Even the unlucky and the unacknowledged watch from high-up windows as Eleanor Swanson reminds us, I know what I saw.”
—Andrea L. Watson
Collecting Life: Poets on Objects Known and Imagined

“One of Eleanor Swanson’s new poems begins with a headline: ‘Girl sees flash, finds / meteorite still hot.’ It’s a perfect description of the poems in this extraordinary collection. Each is a flash of memory, and thanks to the poet’s skill, each poem radiates a warmth both otherworldly and familiar. We’re made of star-stuff, the poet seems to say, and only by staying in touch with that fact can we know our worth and comprehend the worth of others. This is why entering Memory’s Rooms, though harrowing and heartbreaking at times, is also such a healing experience—an experience that will leave readers feeling thankful to Eleanor Swanson for inviting them in.”
—Joseph Hutchison
Thread of the Real

Little Houses

“Through the voices of coal miners and their families, of Mother Jones and the militia men, Eleanor Swanson recreates a history that resonates far beyond the borders of these pages. Hers is a vivid, intricately detailed rendering of ‘this new garden.’”
—Linda Bierds
Flight: New and Selected Poems

“The stories in Eleanor Swanson’s Little Houses are full of subtle mystery and nuance—of what we tell each other, and the secrets we keep, how we connect, and fail to connect, how we love, and how we betray those we love. And how there are no answers, not anywhere, though looking for them is what keeps us alive. These stories deal with nothing less than what it means to be human.”
—Jim Daniels, Thomas Stockham Baker Professor of
English at Carnegie Mellon University and author of
Having a Talk with Capital P Poetry and
Trigger Man: More Tales of the Motor City

Before the Reef Excerpt

“The sense of his body’s boundaries were gone, and the sea flowed easily through him, surging through his blood, and he thought, If I could stay here, I’d be safe. He imagined the time before the first reefs had formed along the ocean bottom, remembering a childish notion he’d had of a pristine place, a world full of promise, he’d called it, a world of light. A world that never was, or was no longer.”

What people are saying about Before the Reef

“Kudos to Eleanor Swanson. In this suspenseful family tragedy, she renders in affecting detail the existential mesh of human interaction in which our intention to protect others unleashes the anguish we sought to avoid. This is a skillfully and poetically rendered story of love and its reverberating loss, and of loyalty, sheer endurance, and of healing. Swanson is an adroit raconteur of the human heart.”
—Marilyn Krysl, author of Dinner with Osama,
Winner of Notre Dames Richard Sullivan Prize

“Estrangement grows on the pages of this novel until it is like a great rift on the ocean floor, coming into terrifying focus only after we journey into the darkness beneath the surface of our familiar lives. After her father is tried for murder, Rachel lives in denial of her family’s trauma until she becomes a stranger even to herself, a process she must reverse when she understands that her brothers obsession with a long-ago crime threatens his sanity. Reluctantly, she comes to face what Gibb has faced, including the recognition that their father has always been a cipher to them all. The backdrop for this powerful narrative is the Florida Keys, where the actions of man have left the coral reefs damaged, a rich metaphor for the lives of the Colgroves. Before the Reef is as suspenseful as it is emotionally engaging.”
—Chris Ransick, author of A Return to Emptiness

A Thousand Bonds

Although A Thousand Bonds centers on the life and work of Madame Curie, the relevance of this cycle of poems to issues of our time is clear. Ellen Bass finds Swanson’s graceful poems urgently applicable to us because of Curie’s “fierce devotion to science” regardless of “unforeseeable consequences.”