David Biespiel and Wendy Willis
We welcome Wendy Willis and David Bisepiel, reading from their most recent books. A Long Late Pledge, the second collection of poems from Willis, is published by Bear Star Press and engages in a conversation about democracy -- in Oregon and beyond. Biespiel's memoir, The Education of a Young Poet, published by Counterpoint Press, explores the source of his creative impulse and offers a moving account of his awakening to writing and to the language that can shape a life.
Wendy Willis is a poet and essayist living in Portland. She is executive director of the Deliberative Democracy Consortium, a national organization of more than 50 foundations, nonprofit organizations, and universities collaborating to support research activities and advance democratic practice in North America and around the world, and the founder and director of Oregon’s Kitchen Table, a national nonprofit dedicated to collaborative and democratic governance. Willis has served as a federal public defender and as the law clerk to Chief Justice Wallace P. Carson, Jr. of the Oregon Supreme Court, as well as Executive Director for City Club of Portland, a nonprofit, nonpartisan civic organization dedicated to community service, public affairs, and leadership development. Her poetry and essays have been published in a variety of national and regional journals, including Utne Reader, ZYZZYVA, Poetry Northwest, and The Rumpus, and she serves as an adjunct fellow in poetry at the Attic Institute. Her first collection, Blood Sisters of the Republic, was published in 2012. She graduated magna cum laude from Georgetown Law Center and holds a B.A. from Willamette University and an M.F.A. in poetry from the Rainier Writing Workshop at Pacific Lutheran University.
Poet, critic, and writer David Biespiel grew up in Houston, Texas, and has lived in Portland since 1995. He is the author of numerous books of poetry, most recently Charming Gardeners (2014) and The Book of Men and Women (2013), winner of the Oregon Book Award for Poetry and selected as one of the Best Books of the Year by the Poetry Foundation. His books of essays include a book on creativity, Every Writer Has a Thousand Faces (2010), and A Long High Whistle: Selected Columns on Poetry, which received the Oregon Book Award for General Nonfiction in 2016. His poetry and prose have appeared in The Rumpus, American Poetry Review, Politico, the New Republic, Partisan, Slate, Poetry, and the New York Times, among other publications. In 1999, Biespiel founded the Attic Institute of Arts and Letters as an independent writing and creativity studio in Portland's historic Hawthorne district. From 2005 to 2010, Biespiel was the editor of Poetry Northwest. He has received fellowships from the Lannan Foundation and the NEA, and he was a Stegner fellow at Stanford University. He has taught at Stanford, the University of Maryland, George Washington University, Portland State University, and Wake Forest University, in additon to other colleges and universities. He is a longtime faculty member in the School of Writing, Literature, and Film at Oregon State University and also in the Rainier Writing Workshop MFA Program. Biespiel currently serves as the President of the Attic Institute. He competed in the US Diving Championships against Olympians Greg Louganis and Bruce Kimball and later coached and developed regional and national divers.