Faculty/Advisory Board

The WSCU faculty, including those on our Advisory Board and those who attend our annual Symposium on Poetry Criticism, is small but nationally, and even internationally, renowned. All told, the writers involved have published hundreds of books and probably thousands of poems and articles in many of the best journals in the country. All are poets who also care deeply about good criticism, and all have taught extensively in America and abroad. We’re also careful to invite people … who are fun to be around. We enjoy each other’s company and we have a good time. Although our full community only gathers for several weeks a year each summer in Gunnison, we are in touch and often see each other and our students at readings and events around the country all year long; we also hold phone conferences for classes and the class bulletin boards are lively and engaging.

David J. Rothman is Director of the Poetry Concentration with an Emphasis on Versecraft, and teaches the foundational versification courses in the sequence. He also teaches at the University of Colorado Boulder and LighthouseSilk Shirt Writers Workshop in Denver. He is co-founder of the Crested Butte Music Festival, founding editor and publisher of Conundrum Press (now ownde by the Samizdat Group in Denver), and served for six years as Headmaster of Crested Butte Academy, an independent school in Colorado. He is Immediate Past President of the Robinson Jeffers Association and sits on a number of non-profit boards, including as Southwest Representative to the Board of AWP.

Rothman’s volumes of poetry include Dominion of Shadow (Gardiner Lithographs), The Elephant’s Chiropractor (Conundrum Press), which was a Finalist for the Colorado Book Award, Beauty at Night (Conundrum Press), Part of the Darkness (White Violet Press) and The Book of Catapults (Entasis Press). Another volume, Go Big, is forthcoming from Red Hen Press in 2015. A collection of essays about mountains and mountain towns, Living the Life, is forthcoming from Conundrum in fall 2013. Over the last 30 years his poems and essays have appeared in Appalachia, The Atlantic, The Formalist, The Gettysburg Review, The Hudson Review, The Journal, The Kenyon Review, Light, Measure, Poetry, The Threepenny Review and scores of other journals. He is co-author, with Stanley Rothman and Stephen Powers, of Hollywood’s America: Social and Political Themes in Motion Pictures and is a regular contributor to Colorado Matters on Colorado Public Radio.

David Yezzi is the author of The Hidden Model (TriQuarterly, 2003) and Azores (Swallow, 2008), a Slate magazine best book of the year. He is the editor of The Swallow Anthology of New American Poets (2009), foreword by J. D. McClatchy. His libretto for a chamber opera by David Conte, Firebird Motel, received its premiere in San Francisco in 2003 and was released on CD from Arsis in 2007. A Stegner Fellow in poetry at Stanford University from 1998 to 2000, his poems have appeared in The Atlantic, The Paris Review, The New Republic, The Best American Poetry, The Yale Review, Poetry, and elsewhere.

A former director of the Unterberg Poetry Center of the 92nd Street Y in New York, he is executive editor of The New Criterion. He is currently at work on a libretto of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Last Tycoon for composer Cyril Deaconoff and West Bay Opera. His literary essays and reviews have appeared in The New York Times Book Review, The New York Sun, The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, The (London) Times Literary Supplement, and elsewhere. As an actor and co-founder of Thick Description, a San Francisco theater company, Yezzi has performed in works by Shakespeare, Shaw, Brecht, Goethe, Williams, and others, in the United States and Europe.

He earned a B.F.A in theater from Carnegie Mellon and an M.F.A. in poetry from Columbia University. He lives in New York City with his family. Go to his website>>

Ernest Hilbert holds advanced degrees from Oxford, where he completed a doctorate in the Department of English Language and Literature in 2000. His debut collection Sixty Sonnets (2009) was described by X.J. Kennedy as “maybe the most arresting sequence we have had since John Berryman checked out of America.” His second collection, All of You on the Good Earth, will appear in 2013. He edited Deeper Than Darkness: Essays and Reflections on the Work of Anthony Hecht, which will be issued by Story Line Press in 2013. He supplies libretti and song texts for contemporary composers Stella Sung, Daniel Felsenfeld, and Christopher LaRosa, as well as scripts for the post-punk conceptual band Mercury Radio Theater. His poems have appeared in several anthologies, including the Swallow Anthology of New American Poets (2009), Two Weeks: A Digital Anthology of Contemporary Poetry (2011), and two Penguin anthologies, Poetry: A Pocket Anthology and Literature: A Pocket Anthology (2011). He hosts the popular blog and works as an antiquarian book dealer in Philadelphia, where he lives with his wife, an archaeologist.

Mark Todd is the Program Director of Western State Colorado University’s MFA in Creative Writing. With a doctorate in English from Texas Tech University, he has served on the faculty at WSCU for 25 years, where he also teaches in the undergraduate creative writing program. His own works include two collections of poetry (Wire Song, 2001; Tamped, But Loose Enough to Breathe, 2008), a science fiction novel (Strange Attractors, 2012), and two paranormal adventure-comedies co-written with wife Kym O’Connell-Todd (The Silverville Swindle, 2006; All Plucked Up 2012). He has a nonfiction memoir about growing up and working in the mortuary business, as well as the co-written third sequel in the Silverville series, both forthcoming in 2014. He’s performed his poetry to audiences across the Mountain West, on the East Coast, and in Berlin, Germany.


Advisory Board

Peter Bridges was born in New Orleans in 1932 and was raised in Chicago. He received a B.A. from Dartmouth College and an M.A. (in Slavic languages) from Columbia University. After two years’ enlisted service in the U.S. Army, Peter was commissioned as an officer of the U.S. Foreign Service and spent three decades in the employ of the Department of State at Washington, Panama, Moscow, Prague, Rome, and finally Mogadishu, where he served as American ambassador to Somalia in 1984-1986. Subsequently he worked for a small foundation in Washington, a large corporation in Houston, and an international bank in Prague.

Three books by Peter Bridges have been published by Kent State University: a memoir entitled Safirka, An American Envoy (2000) and two biographies, Pen o fFire: John Moncure Daniel(2002), and Donn Piatt: Gadfly of the Gilded Age (2012). His poems, articles, and reviews have appeared in the California Literary Review, Christian Science Monitor, Crested Butte Magazine, Crested Butte News, Eclectica, Foreign Service Journal, Michigan Quarterly Review, Notes & Records of the Royal Society of London, Virginia Quarterly Review, and elsewhere. In 1998 he published privately a chapbook of Elk Mountain Sonnets.

Peter and his wife have owned a home at Crested Butte since 1988. He is a cofounder of the Elk Mountains Hikers Club and a former member of the board of the High Country Citizens’ Alliance.


Dana Gioia is an internationally acclaimed and award-winning poet. Former Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, Gioia is a native Californian of Italian and Mexican descent. He received a B.A. and a M.B.A. from Stanford University and an M.A. in Comparative Literature from Harvard University. Gioia has published four full-length collections of poetry, as well as eight chapbooks. His poetry collection, Interrogations at Noon, won the 2002 American Book Award. An influential critic as well, Gioia’s 1991 volume Can Poetry Matter?, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle award, is credited with helping to revive the role of poetry in American public culture. His many literary anthologies include Twentieth-Century American Poetry, 100 Great Poets of the English Language, The Longman Anthology of Short Fiction, Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and Writing, and Literature for Life. His poems, translations, essays, and reviews have appeared in many magazines including The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The Washington Post Book World, The New York Times Book Review, Slate, and The Hudson Review. Gioia has written two opera libretti and is an active translator of poetry from Latin, Italian, and German.

As Chairman of the NEA, Gioia succeeded in garnering enthusiastic bi-partisan support in the United States Congress for the mission of the Arts Endowment, as well as in strengthening the national consensus in favor of public funding for the arts and arts education. (Business Week Magazine referred to him as “The Man Who Saved the NEA.“) Gioia’s creation of a series of NEA National Initiatives combined with a wider distribution of direct grants to reach previously underserved communities making the agency truly national in scope. Through programs such as Shakespeare in American Communities, Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience, NEA Jazz Masters, American Masterpieces, and Poetry Out Loud, the Arts Endowment has successfully reached millions of Americans in all corners of the country. Shakespeare in American Communities has put more than 75 professional theater companies from 35 states on tour in more than 2,000 communities in all 50 states to perform for nearly one million students — many of whom had never before seen live, professional theater. Operation Homecoming brought distinguished American authors to conduct workshops among troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan (as well as their spouses) to write about their wartime experiences.  The resulting anthology was chosen by the Washington Post as one of the top ten non-fiction books of 2006, and the documentary film, Operation Homecoming, became a finalist for the 2007 Academy Awards. Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest now involves nearly half a million high school students across the country in a national poetry recitation contest that awards $50,000 in scholarships. The NEA’s two critical studies: Reading at Risk and To Read or Not To Read: A Question of National Consequence brought enormous public attention to the importance of reading and arts participation. In addition, the NEA assumed a major role in shaping the national discussion on issues of arts and arts education. The Big Read became the largest literary program in the history of the federal government. By the end of 2008, 400 communities had held month-long celebrations of great literature. Because of these successes as well as the continued artistic excellence of the NEA’s core grant programs, the Arts Endowment, under Chairman Gioia, reestablished itself as a preeminent federal agency and a leader in the arts and arts education.

Gioia left his position as Chairman on January 22, 2009. In 2011 he became the Judge Widney Professor of Poetry and Public Culture at the University of Southern California where he teaches each fall semester. He has been the recipient of ten honorary degrees and won numerous awards, including the 2010 Laetare Medal from Notre Dame. He and his wife, Mary, have two sons. He divides his time between Los Angeles and Sonoma County, California.

Enid Holden is a singer-songwriter, playwright, writer, lyricist and librettist. She holds degrees in Fine Arts, English, History of Art and Theatre. Before moving to Gunnison eight years ago, she served on the board of the Potomac Theatre in Maryland and a member of a professional children’s theatre group. She became an alumna of Western after completing a BA in Music here in 2011. She has had two plays performed in the WSCU short play festival and has also participated in summer intensives and screenwriting courses in the MFA program at WSCU.Enid Holden

Enid was nominated for a WAMMY (Washington Area Music Association) award as a recording artist, making her debut with Siya Jika in 2009. Since then she has recorded a solo album and has written the book and lyrics for “Getting It Wright,” a musical comedy about the Wright Brothers. Recently Justus Parotta set her libretto “Lottie Silks,” and it was workshopped in the 2014 Catholic University of America New Voices vocal festival in Washington, DC. She founded the Gunnison Opera Study Group, a community initiative, and sings with the Crested Butte Music Festival chorus annually. She has a local event space, The Fashion Café, where she has hosted Word Horde and other readings. She also writes a column on local culture for The Gunnison Times.

David Mason’s books include The Buried Houses (winner of the Nicholas Roerich Poetry Prize), The Country I Remember (winner of the Poetry Society of America’s DiCastagnola Award), Arrivals, and a collection of essays, The Poetry of Life and the Life of Poetry.  His verse novel, Ludlow, won the Colorado Book Award and was named “Best New Poetry Book” by Contemporary Poetry Review. With Mark Jarman he co-edited Rebel Angels: 25 Poets of the New Formalism. With the late John Frederick Nims he co-edited Western Wind: An Introduction to Poetry (fifth edition 2005). And with Dana Gioia and Meg Schoerke he co-edited both Twentieth Century American Poetry and Twentieth Century American Poetics: Poets on the Art of Poetry.davidmason

His stories, poems, reviews, essays and translations have appeared in many magazines around the world, including The New Yorker, Harper’s, The New Republic, The Nation, The Weekly Standard, The Times Literary Supplement, The New York Times, Poetry, The Hudson Review, The Sewanee Review, The Yale Review, The Harvard Review and The Dark Horse. His work has been read on the air by Garrison Keillor, and he has been interviewed on various public radio outlets. He teaches at the Colorado College and lives in Colorado Springs with his wife, Anne Lennox, a photographer. He serves as Poet Laureate of Colorado.
PBS Online News Hour: Poetry Series with David Mason


Marilyn L. Taylor, Ph. D., served as Poet Laureate for the state of Wisconsin in 2009 and 2010. Her award-winning work has appeared in a number of poetry journals and anthologies, including POETRY, The American Scholar, MEASURE, The Ledge, The Atlanta Review, The Cream City Review, Able Muse, Smartish Pace, and Dogwood, among many others. She is the author of eight collections of poetry, including Subject to Change (David Robert Books, 2004) which was nominated for the Poets Prize, The Seven Very Liberal Arts (Aurelia Press, 2006) and a chapbook titled Going Wrong (Parallel Press, 2009).

For many years, Taylor was an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where she taught for the Department of English and later for the Honors College. She was appointed in 2004 to a two-year term as Poet Laureate of the city of Milwaukee, and continues to lead poetry workshops locally as well as statewide under the auspices of Lawrence University’s Bjorklunden Seminar Center in Door County, Wisconsin, the “WRITE BY THE LAKE” writers retreat at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Redbird Studios in Bay View, and AllWriters Studio in Waukesha. She has also served as visiting poet at venues in Iowa, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Florida, California, Colorado, Oregon, and elsewhere. Marilyn now lives in Madison, where she is currently a Contributing Editor for THE WRITER magazine, in which her articles on poetic craft appear bi-monthly. Audio and video >>