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Paul Willis (August-September)

-Poems by Paul Willis

  Paul Willis (August-September)
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Paul Willis
August-September 2016

Photo by Captured Spirit Photography

Paul J. Willis remembers bringing his family to the museum on rainy days to wander among the whale bones and Chumash tomols.  He remembers literary presentations in the Fleischmann Auditorium by the poet W. S. Merwin, the novelist Ron Hansen, and the creative nonfiction writer Terry Tempest Williams.  He remembers taking part in a reading of poems about butterflies in response to a live museum exhibit.  He remembers Westmont faculty retreats under the sycamores on the museum terraces.


Willis is a professor of English at Westmont College, where he has taught creative writing and British Renaissance literature for the last twenty-eight years.  He grew up in Oregon, attended Wheaton College in Illinois, worked as a mountain guide in the Cascades and Sierra Nevada, and earned his graduate degrees at Washington State University, where he wrote a dissertation on The Forest in Shakespeare: Setting as Character


With David Starkey of Santa Barbara City College, he has edited the anthology In a Fine Frenzy: Poets Respond to Shakespeare (University of Iowa Press, 2005).  His work in creative nonfiction is Bright Shoots of Everlastingness: Essays on Faith and the American Wild (WordFarm, 2005), and his four full collections of poems are Visiting Home (Pecan Grove Press, 2008), Rosing from the Dead (WordFarm, 2009), Say This Prayer into the Past (Cascade Books, 2013), and Getting to Gardisky Lake (Stephen F. Austin State University Press, forthcoming).  He is also the author of an eco-fantasy omnibus, The Alpine Tales (WordFarm, 2010), portions of which were previously published as separate novels by Avon Books.


His poems and essays have appeared in well over a hundred journals that include Poetry, Image, and Wilderness, and have also been anthologized in The Best American Poetry 1996 (Scribner’s), The Best Spiritual Writing 1999 (HarperSanFrancisco), The Best American Spiritual Writing 2004 (Houghton Mifflin), and The Best Christian Writing 2006 (Jossey-Bass).  His poetry chapbook The Deep and Secret Color of Ice was selected for the Small Press Poetry Prize in 2002 by Jane Hirshfield.  More recently his poems have been featured on Verse Daily and The Writer’s Almanac.  He completed a term of service as poet laureate of Santa Barbara for 2011-2013, and was a fall artist-in-residence at North Cascades National Park in 2014 and a spring creative resident at the North Cascades Institute in 2015. 



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