I LOVE YOUR POEM!: Amy Irish on Kathleen Willard’s “Wolf”

This is part of the “I LOVE YOUR POEM!” series, in which people submit on behalf of local poets whose work they admire and write about why they do. The idea is not only to highlight great work, especially from those who may not submit the work themselves, but also to create a big gushy lovefest in the community. If you’re interested in submitting on behalf of a local poet you love you can check out the submission guidelines here

Intense, visceral, lyrical…. how Kathleen moves me with her passion for the world!  

Everything she writes is a fire that ignites me, inspiring me to go forth in her footsteps.  Her poems are both bold and tender; earthy and mystical. This poem is from a book called Heat (and woo boy is it hot!) and another of her books is called Incendiary Season. It is no exaggeration to say that her spirit blazes.

Lately, Kathleen has been a fierce advocate for wolves as Colorado works to reintroduce them (restore them) to their habitat. She has made multiple public statements against trophy hunting of wolves, which Colorado is trying to legalize, and she has organized letter writing campaigns in support of wolf rights. It is a hell of a battle, but she is a fighter.

I love how personal and sensual Kathleen’s poem “Wolf” is, but I could have picked a hundred more with just as much fire about the environment or politics or history.  Kathleen lights a spark wherever she goes, in whatever she does, and I am thrilled to be part of that light.

Amy Wray Irish grew up near Chicago, received her MFA from Notre Dame, then fled the Midwest for Colorado sunshine. Irish was recently selected as the winner of the Poetry Mesa Chapbook Contest, judged by Judyth Hill. Her manuscript Down to the Bone: Poetry for a Post-Roe World will be published in 2023. Her 2020 chapbook, Breathing Fire, is still available at middlecreekpublishing.com. Or read more of her work at amywrayirish.com.

Kathleen Willard’s first publication was in her high school literary magazine, Beverwyck and she has not stopped writing since her poetry debut. Her chapbook, Cirque & Sky, a series of pastorals and anti-pastorals about Colorado, won Middle Creek Publishing’s Fledge Poetry Chapbook Contest. Middle Creek has published her book This Incendiary Season. In 2023, Middle Creek will publish her second book on conservation, The Next Noise is Our Hearts, and Luna Press will publish, Electric Grace, the poetic biography of St. Francis of Assisi. Willard publishes an online newsletter called Occasional Papers.  Visit her website: kathleenwillard.com.