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Oregon Book Award Finalist Dawn Diez Willis

We’ve featured ALL of the 2015 Oregon Book Awards finalists on our blog this year! The winners will be announced at the Oregon Book Awards ceremony on April 13 at the Gerding Theater at the Armory. Join us! You can purchase tickets at Brown Paper Tickets.

StillLife2015 Oregon Book Awards Finalist

Still Life With Judas & Lightning by Dawn Diez Willis




Airlie Press

About the book: 

Following “the caravan of mystery” through the point of view of many characters, Dawn Diez Willis’s first collection enacts a pilgrimage into many voices. Ruminating on an everyday darkness, these poems lean toward the light within the fierce vitality of existence. With musical lusciousness and deeply felt images, Still Life with Judas & Lightning unfolds like a peony, the lives like petals forming a single experience of complex beauty.

About the author: 

Dawn Diez Willis holds an MFA from the University of Oregon, and her poetry has appeared in many journals, including Southern Poetry Review, ZYZZYVA, The Iowa Review, and Dogwood. She is the editor and designer of development courses through Salem Art Association and other arts organizations.  she teaches poetry residencies through Salem Art Association and is the editor of the OSPOA’s Trooper News. She has also served as a member and editor with the poetry collective Airlie PressThe recipient of an Oregon Literary Fellowship, she was a co-founder of an arts journal for incarcerated youth, Through Our Eyes. She lives in Salem, Oregon, with her husband and two children.

Excerpt from Still Life With Judas & Lightning


On their wedding day:  white pellet rain of rice and clear light.
Her cheeks fruited, his smile guileless as bread.
Some life before them the celebrants could taste:
lavender and plum and a third element unnamed.

The community bore gifts in colored bowls and gleaming foil.
The elders fanned flies.
The children gamboled, sugar-fed,

and threw their shoes into the elm-shade and ran
away with shrieks of celebration.

Bride and groom waltzed on a floor laid across summer grass.
Between them, beneath white froth,
beneath pretty girl-fat and viscera,
a spoonful of baby sat at the center.

It was all for her:  rice and light, flower and foil,
flies and shrieks and limitless wonder across the grass.


Front Porch Journal

“Dawn Diez Willis’s Still Life with Judas and Lightning presents a sequence of characters with beauty and song and a great measure of quiet observation. It’s like walking through a museum and finding the gold-framed faces are more than skin-colored paint and eyelashes—each possesses a pulsing spirit hidden just behind the canvas…The sheer innovation of the collection’s language is alluring.”




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