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About Derek Sheffield

Award-winning poet, teacher, editor, and father, not necessarily in that order.

Short Bio

Derek Sheffield is the author of Not for Luck, selected by Mark Doty for the Wheelbarrow Books Poetry Prize, and Through the Second Skin, runner-up for the Emily Dickinson First Book Award and finalist for the Washington State Book Award. He is a co-editor, with Simmons Buntin and Elizabeth Dodd, of Dear America: Letters of Hope, Habitat, Defiance, and Democracy and, with Liz Bradfield and CMarie Fuhrman, of Cascadia: A Field Guide through Art, Ecology, and Poetry (forthcoming in spring of 2022, Tupelo Press). His awards include a special mention in the 2016 Pushcart Anthology and the James Hearst Poetry Prize judged by Li-Young Lee. Derek lives with his family on the eastern slopes of the Cascade Mountains in Central Washington and is the poetry editor of Terrain.org.

Derek Sheffield at Wenatchee Valley College graduation
Derek Sheffield teaching students
Derek Sheffield with moose skull and antlers

Long Bio

Derek Sheffield’s collection Not for Luck was selected by Mark Doty for the Wheelbarrow Books Poetry Prize. His other books include Through the Second Skin, runner-up for the Emily Dickinson First Book Award and finalist for the Washington State Book Award, and A Revised Account of the West, winner of the Hazel Lipa Environmental Chapbook Award judged by Debra Marquart. He is a co-editor, with Simmons Buntin and Elizabeth Dodd, of Dear America: Letters of Hope, Habitat, Defiance, and Democracy and, with Liz Bradfield and CMarie Fuhrman, of Cascadia: A Field Guide through Art, Ecology, and Poetry (forthcoming in spring of 2022, Tupelo Press).

He is the recipient of the James Hearst Poetry Prize judged by Li-Young Lee, fellowships from Artist Trust, the Spring Creek Project, Allied Arts, and the Sustainable Arts Foundation, and a Special Mention in the 2016 Pushcart Prize Anthology. Vijay Seshadri chose his poem as the sole finalist for the 2018 Lynda Hull Memorial Award.

His poems have appeared in PoetryThe Georgia Review, The Southern Review, The Gettysburg Review, AGNI, The Massachusetts Review, Poetry Northwest, Orion, Northwest Review, Shenandoah, Rattle, The North American Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, and on NPR’s Poetry Moment, and have been part of many anthologies, including New Poets of the American West, The Ecopoetry AnthologyNature and Environmental Writing: A Guide and Anthology, A Ritual to Read Together: Poems in Conversation with William Stafford, The World Is Charged: Poetic Engagements with Gerard Manley Hopkins, and River of Memory: The Everlasting Columbia.

Derek lives with his family on the eastern slopes of the Cascades near Leavenworth, Washington, where he can often be found in the woods or along Icicle Creek. His two daughters have come to know many of the beings of their bioregion and can often be found making their own poems and paintings. You can find some of their work in Rattle.

He is the poetry editor of Terrain.org.


Teaching and Presenting

A professor of English at Wenatchee Valley College, Derek Sheffield serves as co-chair of the Sustainability Committee with geologist Dr. Joan Qazi and with biologist Dr. Dan Stephens teaches Northwest Nature Writing, a learning community that blends the study of field ecology with writing. He has won the WVC Excellence in Teaching Award a record five times and has twice served as the commencement speaker by request of the students. In 2016, he won the Linda Schultz Herzog Faculty Member of the Year Award. His students have gone on to earn MFA degrees from the University of Washington, Pacific University, University of Idaho, Institute of American Indian Arts, Eastern Washington University, Bennington, Rainier Writing Program, and Goddard.

He has presented and taught at many conferences and universities, including AWP, ASLE, WLA, CCHA, the Cascadia Poetry Festival, the Skagit River Poetry Festival, Get Lit!, LitFuse, Fishtrap, the Beargrass Writing Retreat, the Sowell Collection Conference, Gonzaga University, Southern Utah University, and the University of Washington. He has also been a visiting faculty member of the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts low-residency MFA program and of the English Department at Central Washington University. In cooperation with Humanities Washington and the Great Books Foundation, he has worked with veterans in central Washington through discussion groups focused on the literature of war.