Bill Hotchkiss 1936-2010

I always thought that poet and author Bill Hotchkiss deserved way more recognition than he got. In fact, even though I’d been in touch with him just months before his death, I had no idea that he had died until recently — though I was beginning to suspect something was wrong.

We did not know each other well at all. We’d had a few emails years ago, and then more in December 2009, when he sent me an autobiography and some manuscripts for possible publication at Moon Willow Press.

I found out much later I hadn’t gotten more response because he died last May 8, 2010, of a heart attack and stroke.

According to Poet’s Musings, he preferred red wine. That is my favorite too, so I will lift a glass.

I first came across Hotchkiss’s writings around 1990, when I found his novel Dance of the Coyote at Purdue University’s undergrad library. To date, it is up there in my top favorite novels ever, and I’ve read it several times throughout the years. That one book deeply inspired the nature of Moon Willow Press and my love for preserving the wild. A few years ago, I wrote an article about coyote killing, along with Nancy Zierenberg, who at that time was the Executive Director of the Wildlife Damage Review, which sought to bring an end to government wildlife killing, something Bill was also very passionate about.

Mr. Hotchkiss said in a letter to me last December 2010:

I couldn’t have been more pleased than to receive your beautiful letter tonight.  And your a wholly admirable project, would seem designed to occupy you for the rest of your days.

There’s a magic in the printed word.  I don’t think anyone understands it.  But anyone who’s been touched by it knows.

Twenty years ago I shifted directions-took over for William Everson / Brother Antoninus after his death-as his literary executor.  That broke most of my contacts in the Big Press world.  I continued as a college teacher, and I continued writing as well-both poetry and fiction-and from time to time memoirs and criticism.  I edited a few more editions of SIERRA JOURNAL.  With time beginning to run out, I suppose I was attempting to do everything at once.

I have perhaps ten or eleven novels finished, unpublished.  And several volumes of poetry.

He sent a couple manuscripts, including an autobiography, but then I didn’t hear much more from him. Finally I realized he had passed away. As you can see, Mr. Hotchkiss was an extremely kind man, a teacher, a mentor, one loved by many —  a husband, father, and grandfather. I hope that someday the executor of his estate publishes his unpublished works — they are truly meant to be read and accepted world-wide.

Hotchkiss’s novels include: Fever in the Earth, Medicine Calf, Soldier Wolf, Ammahabas, Spirit Mountain, Mountain Lamb, People of the Sacred Oak, Fire Woman, Dance of the Coyote, To Fell the Giants, Sierra Santa Cruz, and Yosemite.

He also wrote Jeffers: The Sivaistic Vision.

His poetry collections include The Graces of Fire: And Other Poems, Great Upheaval and Other Legends, Who Drinks the Wine, and Hear the Coyote: Selected Poems 1960-1980.

5 thoughts on “Bill Hotchkiss 1936-2010

  1. I was really fortunate to have Bill for English 1A. I had his last full semester, as he passed away a few months afterwards…I do not think I have ever had a teacher who was able to influence my life in such a positive way. Not only with my writing, but even with my outlook on life.

    I had his wife for English 1B (twice), and she is as close to a female version of Bill as I can imagine. She really is his other half. It is saddening to know that she lost a man as great as him…

  2. Bill was my dad’s cousin. He and his brother Dick, my dad (Stan Stambaugh) and his brother Al Stambaugh, all grew up together. Bill send my dad some pages from the manuscript to check for accuracy. My dad passed away Feb 10, 2010 and Bill wrote a poem for his funeral (I think the last one he wrote). My dad, Al, and now Bill have passed on but will always be in our hearts. I was wondering if the autobiography and manuscripts will be published.
    It’s nice to know that so many were impacted by Bill’s life. – Teri Stambaugh

  3. I knew Bill and Judith when they lived in Oak Run, CA. It was while he was living there that I met him.

    I was postmaster and they lived across the street from my office. Bill would come into the office and we would chat. He gave me his first book, Medicine Calf, with his autograph and I felt proud to get the first copy signed from the author.

    I ran across a letter from him that I received in Dec, 1984 and got on the computer to find out where he was living now and was very sorry to see that he is deceased. I also see that he has some books that I have not read so will try and get them.

  4. I’m wondering if any relatives or friends of Bill’s could contact me with information on Mr. Hotchkiss’s literary estate. I would love to ensure that the family has his writings he sent to me. Others have also expressed interest in seeing them. Update: I have now reached Bill’s wife, thanks.

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