About the Author Books Selected Poetry Selected Prose Contact Home





          Bruce Guernsey is Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Eastern Illinois University where he taught creative writing and American Literature for twenty-five years. He has also taught at William and Mary, Johns Hopkins, the University of New Hampshire, and Virginia Wesleyan College where he was the poet in residence for four years. A graduate with honors from Colgate University, he holds M.A.'s from the University of Virginia and Johns Hopkins and a PhD from New Hampshire, writing his dissertation on tools as metaphor in Robert Frost's poetry.

          Bruce's poems have appeared in well-known publications such as "Poetry," "The Atlantic," "American Scholar," and many of the quarterlies. His work has also appeared in more diverse places like "Cat Fancy," "The Journal of Medical Opinion," and "Yankee." His books of poetry include Lost Wealth (Basilisk Press, 1974), January Thaw (U. of Pittsburgh Press, 1982), The Lost Brigade (Water Press and Media, 2004), and New England Primer (Cherry Grove Collections, 2008). His selected poems collection, From Rain: Poems, 1970-2010, was published by Ecco Qua Press in 2012. He is also the author of seven chapbooks.

          His honors include fellowships in poetry from the NEA, the Illinois Arts Council, and the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference. He is a  “Featured Poet” on the Illinois Poet Laureate Web Site, and former US Poet Laureate, Ted Kooser, has selected five of his poems for the international column, “American Life in Poetry.”  His residency awards include the NEA Fellowship at the MacDowell Colony in 2011, as well as past residencies at Ragdale, the Hawthornden Castle in Scotland, and Norton Island off the coast of Maine. The recipient of Fulbright Senior Lectureships in American poetry to Portugal and Greece, he has also twice sailed around the world as a faculty member with Semester at Sea.

          In 2006, Bruce was invited to edit The Spoon River Poetry Review through the winter/spring issue of 2010. The magazine received an Illinois Arts Council Literary Award for both 2008 and 2009. He is the founding editor and former letterpress printer of Penyeach Press which recently published Mapping the Line: Poets on Teaching (2013), a collection of classroom tested essays on poetry writing by some of the country’s best poet/teachers.

         Bruce’s own prose has also found publication in a variety of magazines, including "War, Literature, and the Arts," "The Virginia Quarterly Review," "Fly Rod & Reel," and “Dappled Things.” His essay, "The Raven's Gift," won the creative nonfiction award from the literary magazine


The author and his wife, Victoria Woollen-Danner


"Flyway."  His memoir The Sunburned Daughter has been serialized throughout 2014 by the on-line journal, The Wild River Review.

For his teaching, Dr. G. was awarded seven faculty excellence awards while at EIU, and in 1992 was awarded the State of Illinois Board of Governors' Distinguished Professor Award, the highest honor offered in that state system. He was also twice nominated for the Carnegie Institute United States Professor of the Year.

He and his wife, the artist and jeweler Victoria Woollen-Danner, divide their time between Charleston, Illinois, and their home in Bethel, Maine. Together, they have five children and four granddaughters, plus a variety of dogs and cats (the latter all with Boston Red Sox’ names).

From Rain

Around Easter
when the woods are still pastel
and the air is damp with April,
I need to feel the river's pull
I haven't felt all winter,

this longing I have for water
that led me here where cutbanks swell
with spring from every hill,
mysterious, maternal,
and into that fullness I enter,

myself no longer
but one with the shifting gravel,
and, like these mayflies hatching in swirls,
from rain I've come, will spinning fall
as once and ever,

both son and father,
eternal and ephemeral
while the current around me curls
and I lift my line in this ritual
of rod and river, of Adam and lover.

— for Victoria







Copyright Bruce Guernsey. All rights reserved.