LIMA — The Ohio Arts Council (OAC) has awarded Will Wells, Rhodes State College’s Dean of Arts & Sciences, with a 2016 Individual Artistic Excellence Award in Poetry. The OAC Board of Directors approved the $5,000 grant recently in recognition of Wells’ artistic excellence and professional accomplishments. This is the second time that Wells’ has received this award.
In addition, Wells has received a $500 scholarship to attend the West Chester University Poetry Conference to be held June 8-11. The Pennsylvania college’s event is the nation’s largest annual poetry conference.
Wells has been a poet since his teenage years. He’s a formalist who pens poems in traditional verse. His poems have a strong narrative slant and often are inspired by his personal experiences. “My writing process is fairly compulsive with multiple drafts and revisions,” he says. “I’m fussy about form and getting it just right.”
The two 2016 honors are the most recent addition to Wells’ CV. He has published two complete volumes of poetry, most recently Unsettled Accounts, which won the Hollis Summers Poetry Prize and was published by Ohio University/Swallow Press in 2010. An earlier volume, Conversing with the Light, won the Anhinga Prize in Poetry and was published by Florida State University. Wells’ latest book-length poetry manuscript, Odd Lots, Scraps, and Second-hand, Like New, is complete and in circulation. It has been a finalist for two national poetry prizes (2015, 2016 and is currently a finalist for a third).
Wells was selected as Ohio Poet of the Year by the Poetry Society of Ohio in 2010. He has served as a writing fellow at various writing conferences, including as a Walter E. Dakin Poetry Fellow at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference (2010), Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, West Chester University Poetry Conference (2014), and Wesleyan Writers’ Conference. His other honors include an NEA (National Endowment for the Arts) Fellowship in Poetry (1983) and four fellowships from the National Endowment for Humanities (most recently in 2006). Wells continues to publish widely throughout the United States and United Kingdom.
Wells has taught at Rhodes State for 35 years. He encourages his students to be meticulous in their own writing and uses his award-winning expertise to show them how to enliven their sentences with richer details and stronger word choices.