Ron Wallace was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and grew up in St. Louis, Missouri. His first book of poetry, Plums, Stones, Kisses & Hooks, was published in 1981, followed by six others. His most recent, Long for This World: New & Selected Poems, is forthcoming from U. of Pittsburgh Press in 2003.
Perhaps best known for his poetry and literary criticism, Wallace has also built a reputation for fiction. Clint McCown, author of The Member-Guest and editor of The Beloit Fiction Journal, admires Wallace's wry humor: "He knows human nature. He understands the kinship we all feel for any well-intentioned soul thrown off-balance by the seesaw motions of the world."
Wallace is Felix Pollak Professor of Poetry and Halls-Bascom Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He serves as Co-director of the Program in Creative Writing, which he began in 1975, and as Editor of the University of Wisconsin Press Poetry Series (Pollak and Brittingham Prizes) which he founded in 1985. He served as Director of the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing (post-M.F.A. fellowships) from 1985 to 1998. Wallace received his B.A. degree from the College of Wooster in 1967 and his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in 1971. He began teaching at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1972, becoming a full
professor in 1982. Wallace has taught a variety of courses including poetry and fiction workshops and nineteenth- and twentieth-century literature.
Wallace's research centers on contemporary American poetry and fiction and the humor found in both, with a special interest in recent poetry in traditional forms and the short-short story.
Wallace has received numerous awards, including Vilas Associateship (1989-90), The Council for Wisconsin Writers Book Awards (1988, 1986, 1985, 1984), Chancellor's Development Award in the Creative Arts (1982-87), Wisconsin Arts Board Grants (1994, 1990, 1988-89, 1982, 1980, 1979), Helen Bullis Prize (1985), Distinguished Teaching Awards (1984, 1991, 2002), Porter Butts Award in the Creative Arts (1983), ACLS Fellowships (1981, 1975-76), Robert E. Gard Foundation Award (1990), Halls-Bascom Professorship (1993), Gerald A. Bartel Award in the Arts (1994), Wisconsin Library Association Notable Author (1994), Banta Award (1995), Hilldale Award (1998), Lynde and Harry Bradley Major (Lifetime) Achievement Award (1998), WARF (Felix Pollak) Professorship (1999), and Mid-List Press First Series Award: Short Fiction (2000).
For an autobiographical essay, a critical assessment of his career, an article Ron wrote about short-short stories, and an article about sonnets, go to http://mendota.english.wisc.edu/~WALLACE/.