poet sketchAbout Bruce Dethlefsen

Bruce Dethlefsen was been appointed as the Wisconsin Poet Laureate for 2011 and 2012. He has published two poetry chapbooks, A Decent Reed (Tamafyr Mountain Press, 1999) and Something Near the Dance Floor (Marsh River Editions, 2003) for which he won the Posner Book-length Poetry Award Honorable Mention from the Council for Wisconsin Writers. Breather (Fireweed Press, 2009), his full-length poetry book, received an Outstanding Achievement Award in Poetry from the Wisconsin Library Association. He was nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2003 and 2009. Small Talk was published by Little Eagle Press in 2014.

Dethlefsen grew up in Kansas City, Missouri and graduated from Paseo High School in 1966. He completed his undergrad degree in Secondary Education at the University of Wisconsin–La Crosse and got his master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh.

Bruce credits two writers for his success in poetry, John Judson, an instructor at UW–La Crosse, and David Steingass, who was a visiting artist in schools. Bruce has worked delivering telegrams, as a night watchman in a cave, as a emergency medical technician, a high school librarian, a curriculum coordinator, and retired after being director of the Montello (Wi.) public library. He has taught over a thousand people to juggle.

More off than on, Bruce has been in several bands: The Organic Republic, The Mason-Dixon Line, annaRANaway, and most recently Obvious Dog (the name from Marilyn Taylor’s term for a “poem beyond resuscitation”), performing original music with Bill Orth on Cathryn Cofell’s spoken-word CD, Lip. Bruce sings, plays bass and percussion.

Bruce served as secretary of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets for six years, co-founded the WFOP Chapbook Prize and started Poet Camp. For eight years he directed The Poet Tree, a monthly reading by Wisconsin poets at the Montello Public Library.

Bruce has had many poems published in journals and anthologies. Two of his poems were featured on Garrison Keillor’s The Writer’s Almanac on public radio and several poems on Your Daily Poem website. He wrote and performed original music with Bill Orth as Obvious Dog on Cathryn Cofell’s CD, Lip.

Retired, Bruce lives in Westfield, Wisconsin.