“Blood Sisters of the Republic,” published in 2012, explores the history of the United States in a different, poetic lens. According to critics, it voices the real stories of women from past to present and touches on the themes of pain, joy, love and grit.
“I hope that the reading will be a space where we can all slow down, take a breath, and connect to the crazy mix of gusto and fragility that is the human experience,” Willis says.
“I am grateful to have readers and listeners for the work. Poetry can be a lonely art, so I look forward to gathering with others who also love the power and possibility of poems.”
Willis’ talk is a part of the Hallie Ford Literary Series, which brings renowned authors from around the world to campus to share their work and experiences with the Willamette community. The free event will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Hatfield Room at the Hatfield Library.
After reading selections of her book and poems by other authors, Willis will take questions about her craft, the writing process and the publishing experience. Copies of her books will be available for sale.
Scott Nadelson, Hallie Ford Chairman and English professor, has wanted to bring Willis to campus since her book was accepted for publication. He says her multi-faceted life will resonate with students.
“It's a wonderful opportunity for students to hear about the journey of one of their predecessors who has had such success,” he says. “Students and community members can hear how she has managed to balance an artistic career with a life doing important work in the world.”
After earning a bachelor’s degree in politics from Willamette, Willis attended Georgetown Law Center, where she graduated magna cum laude. She lives in Portland and works as the executive director of Policy Consensus Initiative, a national nonprofit organization that works to improve democratic governance.
During her lecture, she plans to share some of her experiences as a poet and political advocate — ranging from sharing her work in national publications to working as a federal public defender and law clerk at the Oregon Supreme Court.
Willis says she is looking forward to the event and sharing her words of advice with students.
“Read, read and read some more. Follow your interests. Feed your imagination. Let those who have come before and those who are working now inspire you to what is possible,” she says. “Then sit at your desk.”
The Hallie Ford Series is concluding the year with a lecture from novelist Adrianne Harun on April 3. Harun is the author of “A Man Came Out of a Door in the Mountain.” Published earlier this year, the book has already received rave reviews from the likes of Booklist, Kirkus Reviews and Publishers Weekly.