William Woolfitt is the author of three poetry collections: Beauty Strip (2014), Charles of the Desert (2016), and Spring Up Everlasting (Paraclete Press, forthcoming). His fiction chapbook The Boy with Fire in His Mouth (2014) won the Epiphany Editions contest judged by Darin Strauss. His poems and short stories have appeared in Blackbird, Image, Tin House, The Threepenny Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, The Missouri Review, Epoch, Spiritus, and other journals. He is the recipient of the Howard Nemerov Scholarship from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference and the Denny C. Plattner Award from Appalachian Heritage.
Charles of the Desert (Paraclete Press, 2016)
“Woolfitt’s Charles of the Desert is the ’ragged song’ of Charles de Foucault, attuned to the ’sweat beneath scratchy coverlets,’ ’the hoe and the rake,’ and to how a life can be ’all green wood’ that, in the work of years, leaps with the strange wildness of faith. — K. A. Hays, author of Dear Apocalypse and Early Creatures, Native Gods
“Woolfitt’s ’pilgrim’s progress’ [offers] an achingly lovely canticle to God’s presence as it is both revealed and concealed in the harsh natural world of the North African desert. Richly detailed, lovingly imagined, and exactingly thought through, [it] is a compelling work of art.” — Andrew Hudgins, author of A Clown at Midnight and Ecstatic in the Poison
Beauty Strip (Texas Review Press, 2014)
In the midst of overwhelming natural beauty, rendered with such sensuous language that the reader of William Kelley Woolfitt’s first full-length collection well-nigh swoons in delight, hides desecration, the earth left raw and bleeding behind the “beauty strip” the coal companies create to block from view their destruction. Therein lies the metaphorical paradox of this stirring, profoundly moving book of poems, the destruction that lies behind the disguise meant to allow us to keep living our lives in a state of unknowing. Around that troubling central image, however, pulses the natural world, “center and zenith” as Woolfitt describes it in “Ring of Earth,” echoing James Still’s abiding River of Earth. Through the beauty of his poetry, Woolfitt restores the world so carelessly and greedily desecrated. Stephen Spender once described poetry as “enchanted utterance.” Here is that utterance. Listen, and listen again, to its songs and its warnings.
–Kathryn Stripling Byer, author of Wildwood Flower and Descent
poems from Beauty Strip: “Gauley River Blues,” reprinted in Virginia Quarterly Review’s Instapoety Series; “Absentee,” reprinted in r.kv.r.y.; “Water Shrew as the Apostle Peter,” originally appeared in Town Creek Poetry; “Vanishing Lines,” originally appeared in Still: the Journal
header photograh: Yellow Spring Mill (Sepia), zizzybaloobah abandoned mill site near the Cacapon River in Yellow Spring, WV