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Walter Butts

Residency Sites: Plainfield, VT

Walter Butts, a beloved Goddard faculty member and dear friend, passed away on March 31, 2013.

Everyone who encountered Walter has a special story to tell about him. He had a memorable way of connecting that was deep and personal.  Walter served as faculty in Goddard's BFA in Creative Writing program for 5 years.  He shared so much of himself with us; in his writing as a poet, in program blogs, with his students and colleagues.  At his passing, he was the presiding New Hampshire State Poet Laureate. 

Our love and support go out to Walter's wife, the poet, S Stephanie, their daughter Amy and her family.  And condolences to all in the Goddard community who were touched by Walter and his work.

Walter's Faculty Bio

I am committed to a responsive, student-centered approach that recognizes strengths and potential, focuses on personal interests and goals, and, hopefully, leads to significant creative growth. As a graduate of the low-residency MFA in Writing Program at Vermont College, I greatly value the learning opportunities unique to individualized studies.

For me, the student-teacher relationship evolves in the same sense that the activity of writing seeks discovery. Regardless of pedagogy, the objective should be self-affirmation through the exploration of language and development of critical thinking skills. I believe my task as a teacher is to establish a dialogue with each student that facilitates personal inquiry within the context of both traditional standards and experimental options. Comprehensive readings of relevant literature should be incorporated into this process, with subsequent learning actualized through student writing. The student therefore becomes aware of both the possibilities and limitations inherent in language, and gains familiarity with a range of writing strategies, ultimately arriving at one’s own voice and style.

Writing is my way of engaging with the world around me and making connections between the inner-self and our social environment – essentially, investigating what it means to be human.

The recipient of two Pushcart Prize nominations and a Massachusetts Artists Foundation Award, I have published poems in several literary journals, including Atlanta Review, Cimarron Review, Mid-American Review, and Poetry East, and my work has been anthologized in the Anthology of Magazine Verse & Yearbook of American Poetry (Monitor Books, 1996), Open Door: A Poet Lore Anthology 1980-1996 (Writer’s Center Editions), Under the Legislature of Stars: 62 New Hampshire Poets (Oyster River Press, 1999), An Endless Skyway: Poetry from the State Poets Laureate (Ice Cube Books, 2011), and elsewhere. I am the author of Cathedral of Nervous Horses: New and Selected Poems (Hobblebush Books, 2012), Radio Time (Cherry Grove Collections), named poetry winner at the 2011 New England Book Festival, Sunday Evening at the Stardust Café, which was selected as a finalist for the 2005 Philip Levine Prize in Poetry, and chosen winner of the 2006 Iowa Source Poetry Book Prize, and other books and chapbooks.

I have given readings and conducted poetry and multi-genre writing workshops for various institutions and organizations including the University of New Hampshire, Southern New Hampshire University, Colby-Sawyer College, New England College, Cornell College, Philips Exeter Academy and The Unitarian/Universalist Fellowship of the Poconos (where I spoke on “Secular Faith & the Poetic Spirit”).

In March 2009, I was appointed to a five-year term as New Hampshire Poet Laureate, and am therefore engaged in ongoing efforts as an advocate for community based literary activities throughout the state In October, 2011, I hosted the New Hampshire Writers’ Project “Poetry & Politics Conference.” Poets Laureate from across the U.S. gave statewide reading tours and gathered for panel discussions. I have taught courses in film studies and the humanities, and have an active interest in Eastern philosophy, myth, religion, literature, the cultural influences of African American music, and race relations in urban America.

Educational Background:

MFA in Writing, Vermont College.