Bill Grace Biography

'The poets have become the pastors of our time.'
Helmut Thielicke


In 1976 an extremely modest staplebook of poetry was published titled 'The Halcyon Poems.' In 1996, 'Snippets of His Glory While I Wait' a second staplebook was produced. A chapbook is planned which will be influenced by reader feed back and also a writers critique group that meets at Gemini Ink, a writer's cooperative in San Antonio, Texas. I am almost settled on the title: " Dirt Road Poet." The idea comes from a portion of an address Keith made to a Rotary Club I heard. Keith Jenkin's " Cross and Hammer Publishing" is helping me bring it out. The projected subtitle is: 'Poems Twice Read on the World Wide Web' and the full title projected title is: " Dirt Road Poet." The energy to do this simply has not been present. Keith Jenkins, a local publisher and friend, wants to help me get out the book of poetry out in 2020. This has moved to a 2021 goal. I like the lack of pretension to 'Dirt Road Poet' and its acknowledgement of poetry's hierarchies. If you are a member of the Poem Hunter community I hope you will tell me what you think.

In seminary Bob Leslie was the professor I studied with more than any other.
Robert C. Leslie published 'Jesus and Logotherapy.' This work came out of his year of study with Victor Frankl. The word 'noetic' has come to me out of these influences. Frankl understood the word 'noetic' to mean the spiritual but a spirituality that is not religiously based.

I come to believe in a deeper and deeper truth as my own time of planet departure (death) comes. Professor Leslie was the father figure I feel everyone
should have and there is a great lack of his wonderful spirit in the world.

I hope that some of the poetry contained in this blog is spiritual but only a very small fraction is orthodox. I am a poet of the noetic. In those moments of pure religion that I dip into I turn to my own great tradition that is Christianity whose central core, that I sometimes struggle to live, is SACRIFICIAL love. Sacrificial love is far easier said than done.

I need to add a note about the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. What follows are my faculty appreciation-thank you notes. To Ron Cook of Thomas Starr King School for the Ministry I owe an enormous debt. The Unitarians have something called " The Ministerial Fellowship Committee." It is a big deal if you want to be a Unitarian-Universalist minister or chaplain beyond your home congregation. To put it bluntly divinity students get chewed up in this area of UU polity. When you are a candidate you preach a ten minute sermon to this committee. If favorably impressed you are given a green light by them. It is the most important sermon a U-U minister can give as it determines if the professional gate will open. Also
previous glories do not count. Ron held my feet to the fire and over six months a sermon was at last accept- able to him. We started with " The Virgin and the Dynamo" and ended with " Encounter at Silo 23, " six drafts later.

Autobiography represents a wonderful opportunity to say 'thank you' to the teachers, professors, counselors, mentors and therapists to whom I owe a legion of thanks. The places and the institutions that are found here are also part of that process that ultimately have emanated into a vision and a voice that is expressed here.

I have been a chaplain for thirty years at this writing. This means I have cared for the needs of individuals with out regard to their faith or denominational persuasion or their ethnicity or social class. My job has been to care. This remains a central passion for me. Recently the novel " Once an Eagle" has become important to me.

I grew up on the farm/campus of - the historic George Junior Republic outside Freeville, New York. Theodore Roosevelt once described it as: 'a manufactory of citizens both men and women.' Don Urquhart, one of my great influences, wisely determined that the children of staff would not attend school on the institution's grounds. Upstate New York schools were the basis of my elementary and secondary education but Cornell University was close to our home and was an influence in my development in a subtle but profound way. All of my papers, except two, were generated out of the Cornell libraries for my undergraduate degree from S.U.N.Y. Geneseo.

Consequently my first three elementary teachers of most note were Mrs. Barry, Mrs. Healy and Mrs. Smith. They were all very different in their instructional styles but each was quite committed to the development of the children in their care.

At the secondary level there were four teachers of special note. Judy Greene helped me to understand that television was a 'cultural wasteland' and empowered books over the temptations of my own hunting preserve and an addiction to television. Elizabeth Keogh opened the world of critical thought and examination and sheltered a formative apetite for reading. She was not pleased with my substitution of Lamb's Tales for the primary reading of Shakespeare. Alfred Evans and Edgar Steele helped me to discover the study of history as an enduring passion. The only 'A' I ever received as an undergraduate is a tribute to the quality of the Evans-Steele excellence.

With out any question my greatest influence at the State University of New York at Geneseo was Dr. David
A. Martin, chairman of its economics department and a Kazian Award winner. He was a mentor of the first order long before that word was used. A memorable lunch with the historian Henry Steele Commanger is just one of my many debts to him.

Almost all of my professors at Geneseo were Ph. Ds. A few must receive special acknowledgement. Virgina Kemp introduced me to the thinking of Bernard Fall and probably is the one person most responsible for keeping me out of Viet Nam. Cathryn Beck was the first great scholar of Thomas More to touch my life. Dan Thomas made literature live as did Rose Bacham-Alent. Leo Rockas introduced me to Socratic thought and process. Nick Kardos got me over any glamour ideas of war and Joe Linero helped to open the world of sociology. There were others for sure who deserve mention but these names permeate a fog that is approaching forty years.

Early adult years were informed by teaching in rural and urban school settings, brokerage first line with the Connecticut Mutual and a predecessor experience with Prudential, work with street children in an institutional setting, hospital ministry with cancer victims, good and in quite a few cases great: teachers, professors, mentors and instructors. The high ideals and growing up on the farm/campus of the George Junior Republic outside Freeville, New York, in its pre-1975 history had an enormous impact. Berkeley, CA; Geneseo, NY; and tangentially Ithaca, NY and Washington, DC culminated in undergraduate and graduate degrees. I was resident at Pendle Hill, a Quaker Study Center outside Wallingford, Pennsylvania for two years. This experience with the Quakers was a veritable spiritual switching station. Eventually two of my greatest influences in seminary would be Bob Leslie and Bob Kimball. The ordination ceremony at the First Unitarian Church of Ithaca, New York probably represents the most celebrative collective experience of my life. The military chaplaincy was a great constant from 1978 to 2006 when I was retired. The first chapbook of poetry was published in 1976 and the second in 1996, both were privatley distributed.

Today, the impetus to write poetry is an almost daily imperative. I married late to a very tolerant woman. We have a daughter whose early years were formed of the soil of Russia. One Corgy and three inside cats complete the Grace household zoo. Domestic life is the frequent subject of much of what is published here. I have been fascinated with time management for well over twenty years and consult and teach in this area from time to time.

Popular Poems