Dr. Donald Wolff

Contact Information

Email: dwolff@eou.edu
Phone: 541-962-3527
Office: Loso 153

Dr. Wolff’s Lecture “Buddhist Representations of Nature in Contemporary American Poetry”

About Dr. Wolff

I am a full professor in the English/Writing Program. I earned my master’s and doctorate in English at the University of Washington, after completing my baccalaureate at the University of San Francisco. I came to Eastern in 1991, where I now teach first-year composition, applied linguistics for future teachers, an introductory Shakespeare course, and the first half of the British survey, teaching both online and face-to-face on campus.  I have given dozens of presentations at national conferences on effective writing pedagogy and on outcomes assessment, while my research has appeared in anthologies published by the leading professional organizations in my field.  In addition, I have numerous creative writing publications and have done many readings.  My personal interests include reading, writing, thinking, advocating for the under-served, jazz, blues, zen, art, film, basketball, soccer, tennis, biking, cross-country skiing, tent camping—not necessarily in that order.


Professional Credentials

  • 1984  Ph.D. in English, University of Washington
  • 1975  MA in English, University of Washington
  • 1973  BA in English, University of San Francisco


  • WR 115: Introduction to college Writing
  • WR 121: Expository Prose Writing
  • ENGL 201: Shakespeare
  • ENGL 316: Approaches to Grammar
  • ENGL 371: British Literature before 1800

Selected Scholarly Publications

“Knowledge of Conventions and the Logic of Error.” The Outcomes Book:  Debate and Consensus after the WPA Outcomes Statement.  Ed.  Susanmarie Harrington, Keith Rhodes, Ruth Overman Fischer, and Rita Malenczyk. Logan, Utah:  Utah State UP, 2005.  97-103. Print.

“Asynchronous Computer Conferencing.”  Strategies for Teaching First-Year Composition.  Ed. Duane Roen et. al. Urbana, IL:  NCTE,  2002:  440-52.  Print.

“The Two Uses of Literature.”  Oregon English Journal 14.2 (Fall 1992):  3-6.  Print.

“Jamesian Historiography and The American Scene.”  The Henry James Review.  13 (1992):  154-71.  Print.

“Some Principles of Writing Assessment.”  Pennsylvania English 14.2 (1990):  2-13.  Reprinted by the Pennsylvania Department of Education in Framework Papers, 1 (Fall 1991), for statewide distribution.  Print.

“Leonard Adame.” Dictionary of Literary Biography: Chicano Writers Volume.  Columbia, SC:  Gale Research Company, 1988.  11-15. Print.

“On Reading Moby-Dick :  The Whale  as Lexicon.”   Approaches to Teaching Melville’s Moby-Dick.  Ed. Martin Bickman.  New York:  Modern Language Association, 1985.  121-34. Print.

Selected Creative Writing Publications

“The Odds” and “More Please.”  [one-sentence poems]  In One for the Money:  The Sentence as Poetic Form. Gary Young and Christopher Buckley, eds.  Spokane, WA:  Lynx House Press, forthcoming 2012.  Print.

“Along the Snake,” “Eastern Oregon Triptych,” “Ladd Marsh in Poor Weather,” and “The Panther Fire.”  [poems]  Oregon Poetic Voices. Summer 2011.  Web:  Print and MP3 file.

“Early.”  [poem]  Cloudbank 2 (Summer 2010):  64-65.  Print.

“In the Way of the World.”  [poem with a brief personal recollection.]  In Aspects of Robinson:  Homage to Weldon Kees. Christopher Buckley and Christopher Howell, eds.  Omaha, NE:  Backwaters Press, forthcoming 2011.  Print.

“Along the Snake” and “Ladd Marsh in Poor Weather.” [The latter mistakenly attributed to Thomas Madden]  [poems.]  In A Sense of Place:  An Eastern Oregon Anthology.  Lyn Craig, ed. Fossil, OR:  Libraries of Eastern Oregon, 2009.  11-12, 16-17. Print.

“Red-Tailed Hawks.”  [poem].  basalt 3 (2008):  29.  Print.

“All the World Then,” “Sunset at Gualala, CA,” and “What I Can See,” and a Prose Poem Poetics Statement.  In Bear Flag Republic:  Prose Poetry and Poetics from California.  Christopher Buckley and Gary Young, eds.  Santa Cruz, CA:  Alcatraz Editions, 2008.  Print.

Soon Enough. [booklength poetry ms.]. La Grande, OR:  Wordcraft, 2007.  Print.

“Sunset at Gualala, CA.”  [poem].  ASKEW 3 (Spring/Summer 2007):  21.  Print.

“Ending without Simile.”  [poem].  White Pelican Review 7.1 (2006):  30.  Print.

“Deal Canyon” and “Early Signs.”  [prose poems].  RondeDance 1 (2006):  90.  Print.

“What We Hear.”  [prose poem]. High Desert Journal 2 (2005):  42.  Print.

Some Days [poetry chapbook].  Santa Cruz, CA:  Brandenberg Press, 2004.  Print.

“All I Had Left.”  [prose poem]. The Montserrat Review 7 (2003):  26.    Print.

“Life at Forty-Seven.”  [poem].  Calapooya 20:  (1999):  4.  Print.

“Why I Write,” “In Praise of Daylight,” and “COPS.”  [creative nonfiction.]  The Watershed Anthology 1 (1999):  16-20, 26-32, 40-53.  Print.

“Coming Home Is Icing on the Cake.”  [creative nonfiction]  First Person Singular Column.  The Sunday Oregonian  28 Dec. 1997:  L3.  Print.

“The Mountains Above Visalia.”  [creative nonfiction].  Oregon East 23 (1992):  27-30.  Print.

Creative Writing:  Readings, Contests, Residencies

Invited reader, with Karen Holmberg (director of the MFA creative writing program at Oregon State University).  Second Sunday Series of Poetry Readings.  Stayton, OR.  September 14, 2008.

One Month Residency. The Helen Riaboff Whiteley Center.  Friday Harbor Laboratories. University of Washington.  August   2008.

Honorable Mention in Two Categories.  “Red-Tailed Hawks” in Poetry of Witness category and “Middle Two Rock Road” in Free Verse category.  2008 Oregon State Poetry Association Spring Contest.

Invited Poetry Reader. National Poetry Month.  Ars Poetica Reading Series. Eastern Oregon University.  April 17, 2008. La Grande, OR.

Soon Enough nominated for an Oregon Book Award.  March 2008.

“All I Need.”  [poem].  Nominated by publisher of Soon Enough for a Pushcart Prize. December 2007.

Reading for publication of Soon Enough at the First Thursday Reading Series, La Grande Public Library, December 6, 2007, La Grande, OR.

Invited Poetry Reader, “This Poem Changed My Life,” National Poetry Month Celebration sponsored by Ars Poetica Reading Series, Eastern Oregon University, April 26, 2007, La Grande, OR.

Invited Poetry Reader. The 2nd Biennial East/West Poets Gathering, October 21, 2006, La Grande, OR.

Three-Week Residency. Imnaha Writers’ Retreat.  Fishtrap. April 2004.

How does my creative writing connect to my teaching interests in applied linguistics and British literature?

In our program we believe all genres of writing—and reading—inform one another and we encourage our students to be proficient expository, technical, scholarly, and creative writers. Our faculty tries to model that commitment in our own work; we are fortunate to work in an English/Writing program and at a university where we are encouraged to do so.

We believe writing begins in reading. Reading literature provides a deep intellectual and aesthetic pleasure for me, connects me to the larger world, gives me solace. Creative writing takes us into the heart of language, where we make meaning. Linguistics helps us understand our language as a system. I believe that when we lose ourselves in writing, we enter and simultaneously create a world of connections at once deeply interior and preternaturally social.

I tried to capture what this all means in the following prose poem. The poem is about the meaning of reading in terms of the history of ideas and their currency—what that means in my family. The poem’s form, a single labyrinthine sentence, exploits the syntactic resources of English; that is, it depends on linguistic understanding. So you can see how the interwoven interests I mention above inform this particular creative venture:

In the Blood

Lately, I’ve been telling friends how my son in the first year of his computer science major took a philosophy course to round out his schedule, and had to say, in his first paper, he couldn’t contradict Schopenhauer’s view that pain is a positive in life—is what we all have in common—while pleasure is the negative—the party we throw ourselves when pain abates for a time, gives our due, arbitrarily, to someone else . . . and it reminded me of a visit home thirty-five years ago, after my first year of graduate school, when in order to afford a pound of ground round once a week, I became a grader for a professor teaching a course in continental literature where we read Magic Mountain, so that at home when I told my mother that it had become my favorite novel, out of the blue she declares of my father, about whom I knew nothing since he drank himself to death when I was nine months old, that it was his favorite also and here’s his first edition, pulling it out of God knows where, after all that time.

You can hear me read other poems at http://oregonpoeticvoices.org/poet/298/