Brewster Ghiselin

Brewster Ghiselin—American poet, academic, creator of the Utah’s Writer’s Conference—was born in Webster Groves, Missouri June 13, 1903.

The son of educated parents, Ghiselin himself did not start school until he was 7. At the age of sixteen, he moved to California, where he lived just north of San Francisco, graduating from Tamalpais High School in 1922. Ghiselin went on to attend Berkeley as a painting student in the early 1920’s, only to soon drop out due to his disgust with, as he said, “the puerility of the teaching in the undergraduate courses, and with the atmosphere of childish inconsequence on the part of the ancestors of the troublemakers of the sixties."

After working at a couple of newpapers, he returned to college a year later at UCLA (then known as Southern Branch). He earned an MA in English, and continued his studies at Oxford. Just prior to attending Oxford, Ghiselin decided to hunt down his literary idol DH Lawrence, tracking the dying author to his retreat at the Hotel Beau Rivage in Bandol, France. There, the 25-year-old Ghiselin spent several days with Lawrence and his wife Frieda, having accepted their invitation to extend his stay with them. Ghiselin returned to Oxford newly inspired, writing a prolific amount of poetry that went unpublished for several years.

Ghiselin’s relationship with Utah started off on an uneven note. He taught at the University of Utah from 1929 to 1931, but then left "because," as he wrote, "the climate and the intellectual climate, the absolute paucity of cultural advantages on campus or off in Salt Lake City, was so chilling.” He went on to teach at Berkeley, but eventually was lured back to the University of Utah in 1941, where he taught a course called “The Creative Process,” leading him to create the Utah’s Writer’s Conference in 1947, and remaining its director until 1966.

Ghiselin received an award from the National Institute of Arts and Letters in 1970, and had his Country of the Minotaur selected by Masterplots as one of the outstanding books printed that same year. Additionally, he received the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America in 1981 and the Governor's Award for the Arts in 1982. Ghiselin died June 11, 2003, two days shy of his 99th birthday.



  • Against the Circle, E.P. Dutton (New York, NY), 1946
  • The Creative Process, New American Library, (New York,NY), 1955
  • The Nets, E.P. Dutton (New York, NY), 1955
  • Country of the Minotaur, University of Utah (Salt Lake City, UT), 1970
  • The Water of Light: A Miscellany in Honor of Brewster Ghiselin, University of Utah (Salt Lake City, UT), 1976 
  • Light, University of Nebraska (Omaha,NE), 1978
  • Windrose: Poems, University of Utah (Salt Lake City, UT), 1980 
  • Blue Hotel, Wildflower Press (Lincoln, NE), 1980
  • Flame, University of Utah (Salt Lake City, UT), 1991