Will Cordeiro, a charismatic and witty poet from southern Delaware, was the latest speaker invited to Baldwin Wallace University this past February for the Mill Reading Series.
The Mill is Baldwin Wallace’s literary and arts journal showcasing the work of Baldwin Wallace students. Each semester, the editors and faculty invite an author to come speak about his or her work as part of The Mill Reading Series. This semester Will Cordeiro was invited to present his work.
Cordeiro grew up in Dover, Delaware, or “Lower-Slower” Delaware as he referred to it. Separated by the Mason-Dixon line, Cordeiro describes southern Delaware as swampy like Alabama with no shortage of golf courses or chicken farms. It was here that his writing career began.
As a very young child, Cordeiro’s very first written word was “cat.” He recalls writing it on a plastic bag after his mother brought in the groceries one day. He claims to have been inspired by the famous children’s book The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss.
Cordeiro received both his MFA in poetry and his PhD on self-parody in Eighteenth-century British Literature from Cornell University.
He currently teaches at the Honors College at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona, where he also currently resides.
When asked what drew him to poetry, Cordeiro replied that it was because he can get away with more in poetry than in other genres. Unlike novels, poetry comes with no presumption of realism, according to Cordeiro. He said he was attracted by the “play” and “fooling around” allowed by poetry; by the sounds produced by words and their arrangements; and by the fact that because poetry is often shorter than other genres, he has the ability to really hone in on every decision he makes.
“I find inspiration everywhere I can,” Cordeiro said, “Even in the littlest details.” For this reason, he carries a notebook everywhere he goes.
Cordeiro also said that he finds much of his inspiration from areas of science, anthropology and history, and that he often finds himself reading older works because he enjoys learning about different cultures and traditions from previous times. He notes that his research in eighteenth century literature, which in which appear the themes of madness and enlightenment, may also have an impact on his poetry.
Aside from poetry, Cordeiro also enjoys writing essays and lyric essays, which he describes as a natural extension of poetry. His essays range from academic pieces to flash-fiction pieces.
Cordeiro also has worked on some playwriting. He and Dr. Les Hunter, an English professor at Baldwin Wallace University, once worked together to create a playwright’s group during their time together in New York.
Cordeiro’s work can be found in Best New Poets 2016, Copper Nickel, Crab Orchard Review, Nashville Review, Whiskey Island, and several other literary journals. He has also received several grants and fellowships to continue his work, such as a grant from the Arizona Commission on the Arts and a Truman Capote Writer’s Fellowship.
Outside of his writing career, Cordeiro says he enjoys attending many cultural events and traveling. He frequents museums, enjoys running, and watches many films. Cordeiro visited Nepal over the past summer break. He also recently reunited with Dr. Hunter on a trip to Cuba.
When asked if Dr. Cordeiro had any advice for others, he simply replied: just be kinder to other people.