Paul J. Willis grew up in Oregon, graduated from Wheaton College in Illinois, worked as a mountain guide in the Cascades and Sierra Nevada, and earned a PhD in English from Washington State University. He is currently a professor of English at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California, where he teaches creative writing and English Renaissance literature. His wife, Sharon, is a nurse practitioner in a local clinic; together they have two grown children and a pair of twin grandsons.

In addition to his YA Elizabethan time-travel novel, All in a Garden Green (Slant, 2020), Willis has published an eco-fantasy quartet, The Alpine Tales (WordFarm, 2010), two collections of creative nonfiction, the most recent of which is To Build a Trail: Essays on Curiosity, Love & Wonder (WordFarm, 2018), and seven collections of poetry, including Somewhere to Follow (Slant, 2021) and Deer at Twilight: Poems from the North Cascades (Stephen F. Austin State University Press, 2018). With David Starkey, he has also edited the anthology In a Fine Frenzy: Poets Respond to Shakespeare (University of Iowa Press, 2005).

His poems, stories, and essays have appeared in Poetry, Image, and River Teeth. They have also been anthologized in The Best American Poetry 1996 (Scribner’s), The Best Spiritual Writing 1999 (HarperSanFrancisco), The Best American Spiritual Writing 2004 (Houghton Mifflin), and The Best Christian Writing 2006 (Jossey-Bass). In 2002 he was selected by Jane Hirshfield as the winner of the Small Press Poetry Chapbook Prize. More recently his poems have been featured on Verse Daily and The Writer’s Almanac and nominated five times for a Pushcart Prize. He completed a term of service as poet laureate of Santa Barbara for 2011-2013 and served as an artist-in-residence in North Cascades National Park from 2014-2015.

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