O'Connell received the award for his work "Confetti" and other poems. The final judge for the award was Pulitzer Prize-wining poet Henry Taylor of American University. The award will be presented at a ceremony in October at the University of Tulsa, at which time O'Connell will do a reading and participate in a panel with Taylor.
This summer O'Connell was poet-in-residence at Ox-Bow, the Art Institute of Chicago's summer colony in Saugatuck, Mich., where he also gave a public reading.
O'Connell's poetry has appeared in such magazines as The American Poetry Review, Antioch Review, The Bellingham Review, Chelsea, Nimrod, The Mississippi Review, Southern Poetry Review, and Atlanta Review. A triple nominee for the 1998 Pushcart Prize he received both first and second prizes in The 49th Parallel Poetry Awards, sponsored by The Bellingham Review, and the International Grand Prize in the Atlanta Review poetry competition. He also won the Soundpost Press Prize in Poetry for his collection, Getting the Range.
O'Connell earned an M.F.A. in poetry from the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop, a master's in English from the University of Illinois at Urbana, and a bachelor's degree from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Before coming to Hamilton College in 1997 he taught creative writing and contemporary literature at the University of Nebraska at Omaha's Writers' Workshop, Creighton University and Cornell College.