Writing courses

Webster of creative writing embarks on a new chapter

Kerri Webster, a poet and lecturer in Boise State’s Creative Writing Program, will be stepping down at the end of the fall 2022 semester.

“After 25 years in academia, it’s time for something new,” Webster said. “I take comfort in knowing that I’m leaving the program in better shape than it’s ever been.”

The heart of the program

After completing her undergraduate studies in creative writing at Boise State, Webster returned as a professor, teaching and mentoring students and making the MFA creative writing program one of the most renowned in the country.

“I’ve always said that Kerri was not only the heart and brain of the program, but also its conscience,” said Braden Udall, professor at the program. “She always put the concerns and needs of students first and helped build and nurture our programs in so many ways. Frankly, I don’t know what we’ll do without her.

As a lecturer, Webster has taught graduate and undergraduate courses, chaired and served on MFA thesis committees, served as poetry editor for the Idaho Review, designed and taught the Higher Education Seminar , started an archive of educational materials for teaching assistants, acted as a coordinating undergraduate advisor, served on the MFA Admissions Committee, and mentored undergraduate and graduate students. While at Boise State, she wrote and published her third and fourth books, “The Trailhead” and “Lapis” (Wesleyan University Press 2018 and 2022), and received grants from the Idaho Arts Commission and of the Alexa Rose Foundation.

In his 25 years of teaching, Webster has served students of all ages and skill levels in Treasure Valley and has made a point of mentoring local writers and graduate students.

A beloved teacher and mentor

A dedicated teacher and mentor, Webster has earned a reputation as a strong advocate for her students.

“Kerri’s influence as a beloved teacher and mentor is uncountable,” said Webster’s student Laura Roghaar. “She is the best poet, the sweetest mentor and a faithful friend forever to her students. From his example, I learned that a radical teaching could be to decide to garden what is already growing. She showed me how cultivating a quiet, slightly chilling bias for my own poems is a mode of love. I will have these gifts all my life.

A famous poet

The recipient of a Whiting Award, the Iowa Poetry Prize, and the Lucille Medwick Award from the Poetry Society of America, Webster is the author of four books of poetry.

“I can truly say that I haven’t read anyone like her in contemporary poetry,” said Emily Pittinos, colleague and author of “The Last Unkillable Thing” poetry collection. “His poems seethe with a quality of language that is both inventive and beautiful. His lines have the power to leave one weak or laughing, furious and pensive. I use his work as an example to teach students what the agility of the form can do, as well as the way to require a grimacing nudity of feeling and the most authentic image.

Pittinos not only admires Webster’s language and form, but also his subjects.

“Her work is often topical and dares to explore politicized issues such as mental illness and the expectations set for women by society and religion, as well as difficult interpersonal areas such as abusive relationships and resilience,” said Pittinos. “She is a poet who brings to life an often untold story of contemporary femininity and she is a feminist voice that will influence and encourage the emergence of many others. I saw, in real time, how Webster’s work empowered young people of all genders to expose their own depths on the page.