LCSC's Johnson wins NEA Fellowship
This is a story that appeared in the Lewiston Tribune by Jennifer Bauer
Poets don't write for money or fame because there isn't much of either, says Lewiston poet William Johnson.
When the world hears your words, that's when the payoff comes.
Johnson, a professor of English at Lewis-Clark State College, recently won one of the nation's highest writing awards, a $20,000 National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship.
"It's very encouraging," Johnson says of winning the award. "Writing is a solitary endeavor. ... The core of it is a solitary thing. When the time comes to give something back to the world, you hope the world wants to read it."
Competition for the award is strong. Johnson's application was one of 1,300. He was one of 50 writers to win. Poems are submitted anonymously to a panel of 12. Past poetry winners include Ted Kooser, Robert Pinsky and Mark Strand.
"You're judged strictly by your work," Johnson says. "To me, that's the shot in the arm."
Johnson, 61, was Idaho Writer in Residence from 1998 to 2001. His 2000 book of poems, "Out of the Ruins," won the Idaho Book Award that year. He says he is peddling a book of essays on the natural world and working on another book of poems.
The award money is to be used to support creative work.
Johnson says he hasn't decided how he will spend it, possibly to travel.
"Sometimes it's good to get out of your own basement," he says about where he does his writing.