John O’Connor began his involvement in the labor movement right out of high school when he went to work in the factories of Waterloo, Iowa. An interest in folk music and Woody Guthrie led to a 30-year career as a folk singer and a cultural educator, performing in concerts, coffeehouses, schools and colleges, union education programs and political action events. In 1983, while living in Seattle, John landed a contract with Flying Fish Records. His album Songs For Our Times came out in 1984 and was named “one of the best albums of the year” by the Washington Post and several folk publications and radio stations. He recorded 2 other albums, one of them with the political quartet, ‘Shays Rebellion’. He also recorded a CD produced in conjunction with Collector Records called “We Ain’t Gonna Give It Back”, which is regarded by many as one of the best collections of original songs on the American labor movement. In 1993, the first union for traveling musicians on the acoustic music circuit was chartered as a local of the American Federation of Musicians, due in large part to John’s efforts and imagination. In 1999 he began sending his emotionally-charged pomes to literary journals. Since then his work has been published in dozens of lit magazines, such as Indiana Review, Cold Mountain, Rattle, Sycamore Review, St. Ann’s Review, Columbia: A Journal of Literature and Baltimore Review. He has won the Associated Writer’s Program’s Prague Prize and his poetry has been nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize. His collection of poems, Half the Truth, won the 2015 Violet Reed Haas Prize for Poetry.
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