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Jeff Worley, Kansas Author

Jeff Worley

The Other Heart, Book Cover, Jeff Worley

The Only Time There Is, Book Cover, Jeff Worley

Leave Time, Book Cover, Jeff Worley

A Simple Human Mind, Book Cover, Jeff Worley

Happy Hour At The Two Keys Tavern, Book Cover, Jeff Worley

Best To Keep  Moving, Book Cover, Jeff Worley

What Comes Down To Us: 25 Contemporary Kentucky Poets, Book Cover, Jeff Worley

Driving Late to the Party, Book Cover, Jeff Worley





Jeff Worley was born in Wichita, Kansas. Later, Worley took five and a half years to complete his Bachelor's degree at Wichita State University due to changing his major seven times as an undergraduate before finally settling on an English Major. He was the second graduate, in 1975, of the Wichita State University MFA creative writing program.

Worley, retried, was the editor of Odyssey Magazine, published by the University of Kentucky. He is currently a free-lance writer, editor, and manuscript consultant.

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Bibliography ( - housed in Thomas Fox Averill Kansas Studies Collection)  




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Writing Samples  


"..she lets out a fine
And delicate yet tough and tensile line..."

- Thom Gunn, 'Arachne'

The rain has lifted,
and I've been watching
a furrow spider weave her spell
near the back porch light.
It's a Kentucky summer night.
I sit with a fresh mystery
novel on my lap, feeling
the freshness outside draw
two somnambulent mosquitos
and a carnival of moths who begin
to reconnoiter the 30-watt bulb.
God, this weaver's good!
The loom of her body gives itself
over to pure artistry, the web--
innocent as a doily--taking shape.
Her geometry proves itself
as she reinvents the wheel-like trap,
drawing a crowd now:
whitefly, mealybugs, a spotted
cucumber beetle out on the town
after work. She's furious to finish,
her spinnerettes oozing as fast
as they can the viscid fluid
that hardens into threads.
I'm exhausted by this watching.
I know I could flick off the light,
a simple human motion, and put her
out o fbusiness. But I'd rather
remain her silent partner
in crime, watch her trap this aphid,
strawberry juice from my garden
smearing its face. And here's
one of the Lacebug Mob who've
riddled my azalea leaves, folded
them into withered umbrellas.
I wish I'd screwed in a brighter
bulb if that's all the invitation
they need...
I click the lock
goodnight, let the blaze:
welcome, welcome.

---From A Simple Human Motion

Before the Rain

Dusk. From the porch I see
a huge black shape shriek.

and plunge with thunder
in its breast

and scoop up a chipmunk,
or rabbit--some small

nexus of blood and bone
soon to be gone from the world--

and carry it deeper
dusk, into the resolute night.

When will I stop
thinking about my father.

---From Best To Keep Moving

And a great poem about writing:

Fishing Lesson from My Father, 1957

Did your parents encourage you to write poetry?
--A student's question

First, learn to love the quiet.
Cast out your line as if you
were invisible, a ghost here
in the morning mist
of the Little Arkansas River.
What you hope to catch is
there for you. And Jeff--
are you listening?--
you've got to be patient.
If you can't wait, then don't
unpack your tackle box.
Sometimes nothing happens.
But then--you may be half dozing
in a solid slant of light--
something will jerk you awake.
Feisty silver scales tossing beads
of water in every direction.
Reel it in,
hold it up to the light,
then let it go.

---From Driving Late to the Party

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  • Three Al Smith Fellowships from the Kentucky Arts Council

  • National Endowment for the Arts Creating Writing Fellowship

  • Winner of the Atlanta Review's Grant Prize for "His Funeral"

  • Happy Hour at the Two Keys Tavern named Kentucky Book
    of the Year in Poetry by the Southern Kentucky Book Fest

  • Happy Hour at the Two Keys Tavern named cowinner in the Society of Midland Authors Literary Competition

  • X.J. Kennedy Prize from the Texas Review Press for his newest novel, A Little Luck
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