Paul Willis, professor of English at Westmont, will read from his new book of poetry, “Getting to Gardisky Lake” (Stephen F. Austin State University Press), Wednesday, Jan. 11, at 4 p.m. in Hieronymus Lounge at Westmont’s Kerrwood Hall. Copies of the book will be available for purchase and signing. Students from Willis’ first-year honors seminar in literature will also share their original poems. The reading is free and open to the public.
“Getting to Gardisky Lake” switchbacks from roadside maples to backcountry sequoia groves, from the lost curves of a high school track to the shining calves of Olympic hopefuls, from grade school crushes to married affection, from Jefferson’s slaves to Sherman’s march, from dumpster diving to shopping the mall. These poems contain American multitudes, some whispering in sincerity and others bragging with thumbs hooked in their belt loops. In his latest book of poetry, Willis invites us in and ushers us out to meet our neighbors and ourselves.
Willis, Santa Barbara poet laureate from 2011-13, has published several collections of poetry, including “Say This Prayer into the Past” (Cascade Books, 2013), “Rosing from the Dead” (WordFarm, 2009) and “Visiting Home” (Pecan Grove Press, 2008). With David Starkey, he co-edited “In a Fine Frenzy: Poets Respond to Shakespeare” (University of Iowa Press, 2005). He has published numerous poems in journals such as Poetry, Ascent, Wilderness, and Christian Century.
In 2010, he published a revised version of his first novel, “No Clock in the Forest,” together with three sequels, in a single book, “The Alpine Tales.”
He graduated from Wheaton College, earned a doctorate in English at Washington State University, and has taught at Westmont since 1988.