Ronald Wallace

Position title: Felix Pollak Professor Emeritus of Poetry


Creative Writing (poetry and fiction), Modern and Contemporary Literature, Humor

Degrees and Institutions

  • PhD, University of Michigan, 1971
  • BA, College of Wooster, 1967

Selected Publications

  • For Dear Life (forthcoming from University of Pittsburgh Press, 2015)
  • You Can’t Be Serious (forthcoming from Parallel Press, 2015)
  • For a Limited Time Only: Poems (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2008)
  • Now You See ItPoems (Parallel Press 2005) 
  • Long For This World: New & Selected Poems (Pittsburgh, 2003)
  • Quick Bright Things: Stories (Midlist, 2000)
  • The Uses of Adversity: Poems (Pittsburgh, 1998)
  • Time’s Fancy: Poems (Pittsburgh, 1994)
  • The Makings of Happiness (Pittsburgh,1991)
  • People and Dog in the Sun (Pittsburgh, 1987)
  • God Be With the Clown: Humor in American Poetry (Missouri, 1984)
  • Tunes for Bears to Dance to: Poems (Pittsburgh 1983)
  • Plums, Stones, Kisses & Hooks: Poems (Missouri, 1981)
  • The Last Laugh: Form and Affirmation in the Contemporary American Comic Novel (Missouri, 1979)
  • Henry James and the Comic Form (Michigan, 1975).

Personal Statement

Although I am interested in all modes of contemporary writing, and try to incorporate the full range of styles and modes in my teaching and research, I am particularly interested in contemporary poetry in traditional forms, the short-short story, and humor in recent poetry and fiction.

Recent Books

  • Wallace, Ronald. For a Limited Time Only: Poems. University of Pittsburgh Press, 2008. Print.

    Winner of the 2008 Posner Book-Length Poetry Award. Winner of the 2009 Wisconsin Library Association Outstanding Achievement in Poetry Award.

    For a Limited Time Only explores issues of aging, illness, and mortality, and the philosophical and theological speculations that arise from personal tragedy, and invokes humor, hope, and consolation in the face of death and loss.

    Read more
  • Wallace, Ronald. Now You See It: Poems. Parallel Press, 2005. Print.

    “He said, ‘No thank you.’/Life wasn’t going to jilt him now…” Part nervous laughter, part numb disbelief, part where-do-we-go-from-here, these poems try on catchy rejoinders to the “sick joke” of prostate cancer. Ron Wallace writes with wry edginess of how obituaries ought to drop the “heroic struggle” lingo and simply acknowledge “Rolled over. Bailed out.” How the doctors’ recommendation for treatment (“just cut it out”) was what he kept telling his brimming tears. These are poems of tenacity rather than submission, simultaneously laughing and crying and holding on with all you’ve got.

    Read more
  • Wallace, Ronald. Long For This World. University of Pittsburgh Press, 2003. Print.

    Long for This World includes twenty-six new poems from this master of the sonnet and other traditional forms, along with selections from his six previous collections. This book exemplifies the comic sense, the synthesis of technical skill and strong emotion, and the sensory immediacy that have become Ronald Wallace’s hallmarks.

    Read more
  • Wallace, Ronald. Quick Bright Things: Stories. Midlist, 2000. Print.

    Quick Bright Things is greater than the sum of its brilliant parts. The stories stand alone. Each of the twenty-one stories has individually appeared in prestigious journals, magazines, and anthologies. But this collection can also be read as a sequence of episodes from the lives of Peterson and Christine Kingsley and their daughters Jennifer and Phoebe. In the title story, the last in the collection, Peterson Kingsley has begged off a trip with his wife and daughters to visit his in-laws. While on a solitary run along a Wisconsin country road, he reflects on the defining moments with his family. He recalls Lysander’s lament from A Midsummer-Night’s Dream: “So quick bright things come to confusion.” With a poet’s lyricism, Wallace weaves the various moments into one man’s life experience and makes that experience universal. These stories always return to the question of whether tolerance, good temper, and sympathy can prevail in the face of destructive forces—whether ‘things,’ despite their confusion, can somehow remain ‘quick’ and ‘bright.’

    Read more
  • Wallace, Ronald. The Uses of Adversity: Poems. University of Pittsburgh Press, 1998. Print.

    In this collection of one hundred sonnets, by turns hilarious and heartbreaking, Ronald Wallace once again proves himself to be one of our most versatile and affirmative poets.

    Read more
  • Wallace, Ronald. Time’s Fancy: Poems. University of Pittsburgh Press, 1994. Print.

    Winner of the 1995 Banta Book Prize for a Wisconsin Author

    Ronald Wallace is best known for his wit and good humor, his synthesis of technical skill and strong emotion, his sensory immediacy, his accessibility, and charm. Now in Time’s Fancy, his fifth collection, Wallace explores the tragic aspects of life more fully, fashioning a declarative poetry that is darker and deeper, more meditative and complex.

    Read more