Kathleen Sheeder Bonanno

Picture of Kathleen
Kathleen Sheeder Bonanno
is an award-winning author and poet who received the Beatrice Hawley Award for her book of poetry, Slamming Open the Door, published by Alice James Books in April, 2009 and is the #9 best-seller for contemporary poetry in 2009. Slamming Open the Door is a collection of poems recounting the true story of the murder of her daughter, Leidy Bonanno, in 2003.

Bonanno's heartrending collection inspires both compassion for and awe of the human spirit. Of all the losses we may be asked to bear, the murder of one’s child must be the most terrible. These poems evoke that keenly, seeking justice but transcending judgment as they grieve loss, celebrate love, and find healing.


Kathleen was featured in a story on the front page of the Philadelphia Inquirer Local Section about the Musehouse Literary Arts Center she is opening in Chestnut Hill on the 7900 block of Germantown Avenue, as a result of a 2011 Knights Art Foundation Grant and was covered by WHYY's Newsworks.

In July, 2009, Kathleen was interviewed by Terry Gross for NPR’s nationally syndicated Fresh Air. Slamming Open the Door is currently in its third printing, and was reviewed in the New York Times Book Review in April, 2009. Two of the poems from Slamming were nominated for a Pushcart Prize

The poet Sharon Olds calls Slamming Open the Door "a gift of power, truth, rage and beauty."   David Kirby in the New York Times Book Review says, "Readers will have to step outside of a familiar, comforting tradition of poetic grief while reading this book ... to read this book is not to behold a completed work but to stand onstage with a writer who finds herself in the middle of a story in which she has been reluctantly cast." 

Kathleen’s poetry has also been published in Women’s Review of Books, Margie and the anthology: Beloved on the Earth:  150 Poems of Grief and Gratitude which includes poems by Wendell Berry, Mary Oliver and Denise Levertov.

In 2007, Kathleen received the Purple Ribbon Award from the Lutheran Settlement Home for her advocacy on behalf of domestic violence issues. She is a contributing editor of The American Poetry Review and teaches English and creative writing in Montgomery County.


When Emily Dickinson wrote the line 'After great pain, a formal feeling comes' I think she was referring to poems—and the occasions that make them impossible to not write—like these. Spare, unflinching, and powerful, the poems in Slamming Open the Door move me to the bone. How does one say I love this book, which I wish never had to be written? Only one way: I love this book. I wish it did not have to be written.”—Thomas Lux


Upcoming Events for Kathleen Sheeder Bonanno:

February 1 and 3, 2011
7:30 P.M.
WLVT Emmy Award-Winning "Tempo In Depth"
Featuring Kathleen Bonanno
PBS Channel 39
March 15, 2011 University of Maryland, Baltimore County
April 3, 2011 Poetry Fest - Springfield Free Library
April 8, 2011
7:30 P.M.
Bucks County Community College
Guest Lecturer
April 11 and 12, 2011 Workshop and Poetry Reading
Northwest Florida State College
April 16, 2011 Artists' and Writers' Collaborative, Chestnut Hill Gallery
May 1, 2011
10:30 A.M.
First Unitarian Universalist Church of Berks County
Guest Sermon
June 3, 4 and 5, 2011 Philadelphia Writer's Conference Kathleen is leading Workshops on "Poetry as Memoir"
Complete Event Schedule



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