Poet, writer, literary historian, editor, linguist, and educator, George Venn (1943) is an eclectic, complex, and distinguished figure in western American literature. As one university press editor described him, “Venn’s blend of creativity and scholarship is unique....”
His distinguished and eclectic literary practice may be best affirmed by Marking the Magic Circle (OSU Press, 1987), a 200-page collection of fiction, poetry, essays, translations, and photographs. In 1988, this book won an Oregon Book Award and silver medal from Literary Arts; in 2005, Oregon Cultural Heritage Commission and the Oregon State Library selected it as one of the 100 best Oregon books in two centuries.
As a student, George Venn studied at The College of Idaho, at Central University, Quito, at University of Salamanca, at City Literary Institute, London, and at the University of Montana (MFA 1970). In the 1970s, he won a Breadloaf scholarship and studied briefly with the novelist John Williams. In 1980, his poem “Forgive Us...” from Off the Main Road (1978) won a Pushcart Prize. When he received the 1995 Andres Berger Award for Poetry, The Oregonian described him as “One of the best-known and most respected poets in the state.” His 1999 collection West of Paradise (1999) was a finalist for an Oregon Book Award. In 2009, Oregon State Library & Poetry Northwest selected West of Paradise for their honorific listing “150 Oregon Poetry Books.”
His poems and prose have been published in regional periodicals and anthologized in seventeen different state, regional, and national collections, most recently in Teaching with Fire: Poetry that Sustains the Courage to Teach. His work has been included in the national Poetry in Motion program, carved in stone at the New Oregon Zoo, and featured in the Ron Finne film “Tamanawis Illahee.” Three different composers have set his lyrics to music for concert performances across the Pacific Northwest.
His most recent book, Beaver’s Fire (Red Bat Books, 2016), gathers a selection of non-fiction by and about Pacific Northwest writers 1970-2010.
Paperback: 128 pages
Publisher: Kelsay Books (August 10, 2017)