Faculty Profile

Mischa Willett, Instructor of English and Writing

Mischa Willett

Assistant Professor of English and Writing

Email: mwillett@spu.edu
Phone: 206-281-2084
Office: Marston 223

Education: BA, Wheaton College, 2000; MA, Northern Arizona University, 2003; MFA, University of Washington, 2006; Ph.D., University of Washington, 2012

Mischa Willett is a specialist in British Literature of the Nineteenth-Century, particularly the poetry of writers such as William Wordsworth, Percy Shelley, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, though he often teaches Shakespeare and the History of Drama as well. Recently, his interest in the aesthetic movements of the period has caused him to engage the curious school of poets known as the “Spasmodics.” Consisting of mostly working-class writers from the north of Britain, the Spasmodics are the most popular writers that most people have never heard of.

As a poet, he is interested in the pliability of formal structures and in making verse informed by historical Christianity and the past of classical antiquity. He also writes poetic translations from Italian, German, and Greek.

His essays range from topics such as Native American spirituality, to the theology of action movies; from university pedagogy, to Italian painting.

When he is not thinking about, teaching, or writing poetry, Willett can be found worshiping with his family in the local Anglican church, perusing the shelves of Seattle’s many excellent book and record stores, or watching one of his wife’s ballets.


The Elegy Beta

Mockingbird Ministries Inc., 2020

The Elegy Beta is the follow-up poetry book to Mischa Willett’s critically acclaimed debut, Phases. It features lyrical ruminations on subjects classical and contemporary, theological and practical, suffused with characteristic candor and wit. The long eponymous poem that anchors the collection is an extended meditation on angels, as a kind of tribute to the poet Rainer Maria Rilke.


Cascade Books, 2017

The poems in Phases are as interested in the creeping penumbral edge of language as they are in the shadowy fact of faith. Playful experiments with form swing to the conceptual ring's apogee while a colloquy across history and place — Italy, the Pacific Northwest — center the proverbial orbit. Organized after Galileo’s map of the moon, the book moves through moods, sections, life-stages, i.e. phases, on its way to bright reflective fullness.

Selected Publications

  • “Humanities Research with Undergraduates.” Chronicle of Higher Education (May 2019).
  • “A Hateful Cawing of the Crows: W. E. Aytoun's Satirical Misfire.” Victorian Literature and Culture, vol. 46, no. 2, pp. 467–82 (2018).
  • “Fading Crimean Flowers: Spasmodic Sonnets on the War.” Victoriographies, vol. 8, no. 2, pp. 135–50 (2018)
  • “Shelley’s Spasmodic Afterlife.” The Politics of Shelley: History, Theory, Form. Ed. Matthew Borushko. Oct. Romantic Circles (2015).
  • “Violence and Absence: Wordsworth Struck Dumb by the Simplicity of Innocence.” RaVoN, vol. 62. Oct. pp. 1–31 (2013).

Personal Links

Why I Teach at SPU

“I teach because going to a Christian college was the best thing that ever happened to me and I’d like to create similarly transformative experiences for my students.”