CD59 – 3 Poems by NM Senator/Poet Bill O’Neill (selected from The Definition of Empty)

Hello all!

Today we are thrilled to present selections from The Definition of Empty, by New Mexico Senator and poet Bill O’Neill!

Bill O’Neill grew up in rural Ohio and graduated from Cornell University. Elected to the New Mexico Legislature in 2008 he is now in his second term in the New Mexico State Senate. His poems have appeared in numerous literary reviews, both regional and national. Bill’s career has been framed by his work with nonprofits, with a focus on incarcerated juveniles and adults. In 2005 Governor Bill Richardson appointed him Executive Director of the NM Juvenile Parole Board. Named an Emerging Leader in 2016 by the University Of Virginia’s Darden School, he credits his early literary inspiration to mentors E.L. Doctorow and V.B. Price.
You can learn more about Senator O’Neill at this website here (

TW: This episode features poetry that addresses difficult topics such as domestic violence and abuse.

The Definition of Empty (A Poetry Collection)
The Definition of Empty is the story of a dedicated advocate trying to help adolescents facing incarceration and newly released parolees navigate imperfect and seemingly indifferent legal systems and societies. Told from the point of view of a public servant trying his best to work with people at various levels of brokenness, these poems are compassionate, heartbreaking, and even sometimes brutal while the voice is gentle, outraged, and naïve in turns. With this collection O’Neill insists that readers bear witness to the struggles of disenfranchised people they might otherwise ignore.

Purchase The Definition of Empty here (

Read and Produced by J. Alejandro
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