Poetry Collection Wins National Contest

English Professor Paul Willis’ 24-page chapbook, “The Deep and Secret Color of Ice,” was selected as the winner in an annual national competition sponsored by Small Poetry Press in Concord, Calif.

Chosen from 300 entries and 13 finalists, Willis will receive a $1,000 prize and 100 free copies of the chapbook, to be published March 1.

Willis will give poetry readings 8 p.m. March 3 at JoJo’s Café in downtown Santa Barbara and 3:30 p.m. April 8 in Hieronymus Lounge in Westmont’s Kerrwood Hall. He will also read May 11 in Pleasant Hill for the Small Poetry Press monthly series.

“Paul Willis’ poems give off a multifaceted, sharp-edged beauty, akin to the light that sometimes glints from the edges of leaves after rain,” wrote poet and final judge Jane Hirshfield. “They look to the places where unexpected treasures lie quietly hidden – a childhood illness, a set of old wooden bleachers, a Sierra juniper’s berries – and bring that treasure richly forward, into a mature, and maturing wisdom.”

Willis considers himself an apprentice to wise and experienced poets like Hirshfield.
“To be recognized by her is more than an honor. It is like the feeling a student gets when he or she receives a compliment from an admired teacher,” Willis said.

“Poetry is the art of paying attention,” Willis said. “In an age of media bombardment, poetry helps us to connect with ourselves, others and the world around us.”

The chapbook will be available at the Westmont bookstore and at www.smallpoetrypress.com. For more information, contact the Westmont public affairs office at 565-6055.