Joe Wilkins is the author of a memoir, The Mountain and the Fathers, and two collections of poems, Notes from the Journey Westward and Killing the Murnion Dogs. He lives with his wife, son, and daughter in western Oregon, where he teaches writing at Linfield College.
***Winner of the 2014 GLCA New Writers Award in Nonfiction***
The Big Dry of eastern Montana makes for a subject of rich complexity. Joe Wilkins evokes place like Willa Cather. That is, place begins as a kind of raw, wide-open poetry. But Wilkins tells a different story. This is about the author’s search for a model of fatherhood, to fill spaces left empty by the death of his father. Wilkins strikes with staggering, melancholy, progressively self-reflective prose that, in part, inhabits the sparseness of the part of Montana where he was born and grew up. Yet his prose also pushes against what might be considered the standard fare of writing fixed in the American West. He addresses memory and the inability to remember in lyrical prose that is, at times, achingly beautiful yet never pretentious or sentimental and never cold. With exquisite control at both the structural and sentence level, he displays both a surety and openness to question, particularly with regard to class and masculinity without theorizing or naming them as such. -Judges’ Citation for The Mountain and the Fathers, Winner of the 2014 GLCA New Writers Award in Nonfiction
***Winner of the 2013 High Plains Book Award in Poetry***
One way to define love is fidelity to experience, and if this is so, then Wilkins demonstrates such love over and over in his ruthless, entirely unsentimental efforts to imagine and understand the world he inhabits—and the one that inhabits him. These are the sorts of poems one keeps close by when they’re most needed, when one can feel most lost. -Sam Green, Washington State Book Award Winner for The Grace of Necessity
***Finalist for the 2012 Paterson Poetry Prize***
Joe Wilkins has a big, true, highway‑running American voice. When you see a new book of his, you should celebrate. Just buy it, put down the window, and let the music blow back your hair. It’s nothing but alive. -Luis Alberto Urrea, Pulitzer Prize Finalist for The Devil’s Highway