Brock Dethier

Brock Dethier is a poet and author of books for writers and writing teachers. After graduating from Stanford with an English/Creative Writing degree, he earned a PhD in English pedagogy from the University of Virginia, then taught for 45 years, primarily at the University of New Hampshire and Utah State University, where he directed the composition program for eleven years. He retired as full professor from USU in 2018.

Dethier is a professional writer of many genres and a student of writing processes and pedagogies. He wrote primarily fiction for 25 years before switching his emphasis to poetry. At the same time, he was ghost-writing, rewriting, and providing what would now be called “content” for a major publisher and for a management guru. An amateur musician, Dethier also created in the mid-1990s two song-and-story tapes for kids.

At USU, Dethier wrote books to help college composition students and teachers, publishing The Composition Instructor’s Survival Guide in 1999, From Dylan to Donne: Bridging English and Music in 2003, First Time Up: An Insider’s Guide for New Composition Instructors in 2005, and 21 Genres and How to Write Them in 2013.

Having switched from fiction to poetry in his 40s, Dethier began publishing poems in 1994. His 2007 chapbook, Ancestor Worship, examines and challenges the implications of its title, while his full-length 2015 collection of poems, Reclamation, traces an arc from trauma to transcendence.

In his scholarly writing, Dethier often makes connections between disparate disciplines and genres in order to make writing processes and issues easier to understand. Besides his work focused on bringing music into English class, he’s published a series of “pedagogical poems” as well as articles on how writing poetry taught him about other genres and on what composition scholars could learn from management theory.

As a teacher, Dethier was honored with two college teacher-of-the-year awards and by the stellar reputation earned by USU master’s graduates in schools and colleges throughout Utah. As an administrator, he strove to retain his empathy and make sure every student left his office a step closer to having the problem solved.

Dethier is married to the poet Shanan Ballam and has lived in Cache Valley, Utah since 1997.



  • Reclamation, Dwight, NE: Popcorn Press, 2015.
  • 21 Genres and How to Write Them, USU Press, 2013.
  • Ancestor Worship, Pudding House, 2007.
  • First Time Up: An Insider's Guide for New Composition Instructors, USU Press, 2005.
  • From Dylan to Donne: Bridging English and Music, Boynton/Cook, 2003.
  • The Composition Instructor's Survival Guide, Boynton/Cook, 1999.
  • Resources for Writing With a Purpose, Houghton Mifflin, 1988.