Success Stories

GVSU poet receives NEA fellowship

William Notter



With his new bachelor’s of arts degree from Indiana’s University of Evansville in hand, William Notter moved to Oxford, Mississippi, hoping to work in a bookstore there, while writing poetry. That job fell through, though he found another - digging fence post holes for the famed author John Grisham. He still chuckles over the irony of it. Notter went on to earn an MFA from the University of Arkansas.

Notter has come a long way since then and recently received a Literature Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. The fellowships alternate annually between poetry and prose. For 2009, Notter is one of 41 poets to receive fellowships, which include $25,000 to encourage focusing on creativity and the production of new work.

As a visiting writer at Grand Valley, Notter has taught introductory level writing classes and gave a reading in the 2008 Writers Series. His book, Holding Everything Down, received the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award, and publication in fall 2009.

Much of Notter’s poetry is a testimony to the rural landscapes of his youth in Colorado, and how it affects people. Dramatic monologues by laborers are a frequent voice.

“It wasn’t until I left home, to attend the University of Evansville in Indiana as an undergrad, that I realized how much I missed my local landscape,” said Notter. “Actually, I became more aware of it on the 18-hour drives home, when, about 40 miles from my destination, I’d relax into the bluffs and river alongside the highway.”

Over the years Notter has traveled and lived throughout the West, Midwest and South, paying attention to the landscape of each and the names of indigenous plants and trees. Many have found their way into his poetry, which has appeared on NPR’s “The Writer’s Almanac,” and in journals such as Alaska Quarterly, The Midwest Quarterly and Southern Poetry Review. He was awarded the Robert Phillips Poetry Chapbook Prize from Texas Review Press for More Space Than Anyone Can Stand, and has also received grants from the Nevada Arts Council and Sierra Arts Foundation.

by Mary Isca Pirkola

This story was filed with the tags: Arts, Books, First-Rate Faculty, Grants, Literature