Monday, April 18, 2011

Paul Willis

Paul Willis is an English professor at Westmount College in Santa Barbara, California. Besides writing poetry, he has published essays such as those in his book Bright Shoots of Everlastingness (WordFarm); he also has a novel forthcoming.

A dominant influence on his life and writing has been being a mountaineer. He grew up in Oregon, close to the Cascade Mountains, where he was wholly “summit bound”. He and his brother recklessly sought to climb every peek in their state, and were “very nearly obliterated” doing it. In one attempt to climb Alaska’s Mount McKinley, Paul’s brother lost his hands and feet to frostbite, while Paul was hallucinating — still 800 feet from the top.

Mountaineering has also drawn him towards the work of pioneer naturalist John Muir, and inspired him to pursue ecological issues. The following is the title poem from his most-recent poetry collection.

Rosing from the Dead

We are on our way home
from Good Friday service.
It is dark. It is silent.
“Sunday,” says Hanna,
“Jesus will be rosing
from the dead.”

It must have been like that.
A white blossom, or maybe
a red one, pulsing
from the floor of the tomb, reaching
round the Easter stone
and levering it aside
with pliant thorns.

The soldiers overcome
with the fragrance,
and Mary at sunrise
mistaking the dawn-dewed
Rose of Sharon
for the untameable Gardener.

(Posted with permission of the poet)

This is the first of three Kingdom Poets posts about Paul Willis: second post, third post, fourth post.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. He is the award-winning author of the poetry collections Poiema (Wipf & Stock) and So The Moon Would Not Be Swallowed (Rubicon Press). They are both available at: