John Willson BA '76

John Willson BA ʼ76

Posted 02/25/2020

John Willson BA ʼ76 authors this full-length collection of largely biographical poems written over many years. Their topics include the death of a father, a wife’s battle with breast cancer, and experiences from a one-and-a-half-year stay in Japan. Counting Theodore Roethke and Gary Snyder as primary influences, Willson considers himself a poet of nature whose work reflects lyric and narrative modes. Themes emerging in his poems revolve around man, nature, religion, technology, art, love, memory, and death. Willson is a recipient of the Pushcart Prize and awards from the Academy of American Poets, the Artist Trust of Washington, and the King County Arts Commission. A two-time finalist in the National Poetry Series, Willson lives with his wife, Kimberly Anicker BA ʼ98, on Bainbridge Island, Washington, where he has been designated an Island Treasure for outstanding contributions to arts in the community. “John Willson’s poems are guides for wanderers. Such great tenderness and delicacy live in these lines, a softness of presence/absence in the rich fabric of birds, skies, highly attuned relationships woven through time. Mysterious maps of ancestral legacy vibrate as a low hum—people who birthed us, poets who birthed our souls, and the infinite winding roads—with so many meaningful points on the compass, so many homes.” —Naomi Shihab Nye