Poetry & Essays

William O'Daly
Photo by Kristine Iwersen O’Daly

A Life in Poetry

The writing, reading, and editing of poetry have formed the core of William O’Daly’s career, and these endeavors nourish every aspect of his public and personal life. “Poetry is a way of being in the world,” he says, “and it is within us all.” He is widely recognized as a translator for his late-career and posthumous Pablo Neruda series (Copper Canyon Press), and he has published his own work in magazines, journals, and anthologies, as well as on broadsides, in chapbooks, and in audio recordings.

Other artists have used O’Daly’s poetry and translations in dance and stage performances and photography exhibitions. He finds much joy in collaborating with classical and jazz musicians in performance of his work, and he collaborates often and in various ways with the world-class painter and photographer, Galen Garwood.

His career conveys a strong sense of service to poetry, other poets and translators, and the culture at large, and affirms the need to elevate relevance over short-term recognition. Shawn Griffin, poet, editor, and community activist, has written that “O’Daly, by choice, has taken the long road, Basho’s road, to the interior. Something few choose these days.”

These five sample poems, recently published, express a range of style and voice yet together develop certain themes.

Poetry and the sharing of poetry encourage and support the building of community, locally and globally, and make things happen. “Poetry comes into being as both an expression of and a catalyst for change,” says O’Daly. In an essay first made available online by the Surprise Valley Writers’ Conference, and in a lecture delivered at the 2009 conference, he explores these ideas.

Recent interviews with William O’Daly, conducted by the following poets, writers, translators, journalists, and editors: