Gary Charles Wilkens

Professor & Poet

About Myself


The Story of My Life

I was born in Charleston, SC and raised in North Carolina and Arkansas. After graduating from Hendrix College in Conway, AR, with a Bachelor’s Degree with Distinction in Philosophy, I went through the usual poet’s formation: rejections from schools and journals, jobs as a burger flipper, coffee maker, garden nursery worker, dishwasher, and unemployed bohemian. I moved to Germany in July of 2001 to marry my girlfriend, whom I had met over the internet while a senior. I lived there for 2-½ years, working as a dishwasher (yes, again), English tutor, and expatriate poet, Ezra Pound style.

We moved to the United States in January 2004, where I completed my Masters of English at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX in December 2005.

I graduated in May 2010 with my PhD in Literature/Creative Writing from The University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, MS.

After two years at West Virginia University’s Institute of Technology in Montgomery, WV, I am now an Assistant Professor of English at Norfolk State University in Norfolk, VA.




© 2005-2014 Gary Charles Wilkens (click to e-mail me)

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The Story of My Poetry

Some of my poetic influences: Yosano Akiko, Rainer Maria Rilke, Federico García Lorca, Edwin Arlington Robinson, Ezra Pound, Wallace Stevens, Carl Sandburg, William Carlos Williams, Kenneth Rexroth, John Berryman, Pablo Neruda, Czeslaw Milosz, Wislawa Szymborska.

It is very important to me that my poems have a strong rhythmic, musical flow. However, I do not achieve this flow through traditional English accentual-syllabic meter (if you find any iambic pentameter, it was an accident). I prefer instead alliteration, repetition, parallelism, various types of subtle rhyme, and in general as much vigorous diction and vivid imagery as I can manage. The bedrock of my style is the concrete visual image and its attendant metaphor and symbolism–my debts to Imagism, the Deep Image school, and Symbolism should be clear. I am also an avid reader of verse in Persian, Japanese and German–much of my image-style comes from haiku and tanka, my lyrical tongue from Rumi and Attar, and my mystical sensibilities from Rilke and Hesse. My poetry also contains holdovers from my days as a philosopher and activist. The last part of the equation of my style and influence is music: jazz, blues, and bluegrass most notably.