Town Crier

WILMINGTON — John Sib­ley Williams, originally from Wilmington, recently won the Orison Poetry Prize for his col­lection “As One Fire Con­sumes Another,” which was re­leased on April 2.

Sibley attended Wilmington public schools throughout his childhood, graduating from Wilmington High School in 1997. He then went on to graduate from the University of New York-Albany with a BA in Writing. Also, he obtained MAs in Creative Writing from Rivier University, and Book Pub­lish­ing from Portland State Uni­versity in Portland, Oregon.

Williams began writing short fiction as a child, continuing to do so through high school and college. He wrote his first poem at the age of 21, after becoming inspired on a summer trip to a lake in New York

“I began writing something that obviously wasn’t a story. What was it? Impressions. Col­ors. Emotions. Strange im­ages,” he said. “I ran back to the car, took out a little notebook, and spent hours emptying myself of visions and fears and joys I don’t think I even knew I had. Since that surreal and confusing moment by that little city lake 19 years ago, poetry has become my creative obsession and life’s work, the lens through which I better comprehend the world and my tiny part in it.”

The inspiration for “As One Fire Consumes Another” was rooted in cultural and political issues as they are implied within interpersonal situations, specifically concerning his own identity.

“I found myself questioning not just my country, culture, and history but nearly everything that defines me,” he said. “I struggled to faithfully explore the extent of my personal privilege as a white, CIS, able-bodied male whose labors and strains are so trifling compared to others. I wanted to stare guilt and complicity square in the eye.”

Like within much of his other work, common themes include human attachments and disconnects: to others, to self-perception, to culture and politics, to nature, to language, to the past and future, to hurt and healing.

In addition to “As One Fire Consumes Another,” Williams is the author of three other poetry collections: “Skin Me­m­o­ry” (Backwaters Prize, Uni­versity of Nebraska Press, 2019), “Disinheritance,” and “Controlled Hallucinations.”

He is a 19-time Pushcart no­minee, and the winner of nu­merous awards, including the Wabash Prize for Poetry, Phil­ip Booth Award, American Liter­ary Review Poetry Con­test, Phyllis Smart-Young Prize, Nancy D. Hargrove Editors' Prize, Confrontation Poetry Prize, and Laux/Millar Prize.

He also serves as editor of The Inflectionist Review. Pre­vious publishing credits in­clude: The Yale Review, Mid­west Quarterly, Southern Re­view, Sycamore Review, Prai­rie Schooner, The Massachu­setts Review, Poet Lore, Sa­ranac Review, Atlanta Review, TriQuarterly, Columbia Poet­ry Review, Mid-American Re­view, Poetry Northwest, Third Coast, and various anthologies.

Aside from writing, Williams currently teaches literacy to middle school students at the local nonprofit: A Renaissance School of Arts & Sciences in Portland, Oregon, and works as a freelance poetry editor and literary agent. He is also the father of two twin toddlers.

Additionally, he works tow­ards helping emerging au­thors, teaching regional workshops, and working as a literary agent, poetry editor, and writing coach.

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