Danielle Cadena Deulen

Associate Professor of English

Image of Danielle Cadena Deulen

Contact Information

Eaton 204
900 State Street
Salem  Oregon  97301
503-370-6944 (Fax)


PhD, English and Creative Writing, University of Utah, 2011

MFA, Poetry, George Mason University, 2005

BA, English, The College of Santa Fe, 2001


Danielle Cadena Deulen is the author of three books and a chapbook: Our Emotions Get Carried Away Beyond Us (2015), which won the Barrow Street Book Contest, American Libretto (2015) which won the Sow’s Ear Chapbook Contest; The Riots (2011), which won the AWP Prize in Creative Nonfiction and the GLCA New Writers Award; and Lovely Asunder (2011), which won the Miller Williams Arkansas Poetry Prize and the Utah Book Award. She has been the recipient of an Oregon Literary Fellowship, The Renjen Prize for Faculty Excellence, an Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award, three Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Awards, and a Jay C. and Ruth Halls Poetry Fellowship. Her poems and essays have appeared in many journals, including The Iowa Review, The Kenyon Review, The Utne Reader, as well as several anthologies, including Best New Poets, and After Montaigne: Contemporary Essayists Cover the Essays. She is an Associate Professor at Willamette University. She is co-creator and host of Lit From the Basement, a literary podcast. You can find more information about her at her website.


Over the past fourteen years, I’ve taught multi-genre creative writing, contemporary poetry, creative nonfiction, and other writing courses to undergraduate and graduate students at various institutions across the country. As I see it, language is paramount to every interaction we have, whether it be presenting ourselves appropriately in job interviews or communicating with the people closest to us. That’s why I value literature so deeply, why I’ve always loved to read and write. Primarily, I write poetry and creative essays, but I also write for and host a literary podcast at Lit From the Basement. My work often blurs the lines between genres and I have a deep interest in aesthetic hybridity—in texts that don’t behave conventionally. Perhaps that’s also why I find myself drawn to texts and authors who challenge hegemonic mythos: authors who write in and from the margins. In the classroom, I value diverse perspectives and an environment that allows for respectful contemplation and discussion of those various perspectives. Guiding students through their explorations of new texts and helping them to become more cognizant of their own writerly idiosyncrasies is as invigorating for me as it is joyful.

Recent Courses

College Colloqium: How We Love (IDS 101)

Introduction to Creative Writing (ENGL 135)

Close Reading (ENGL 201)

Fundamentals of Creative Writing (ENGL 203)

Creative Nonfiction (ENGL 329)

Intermediate Poetry Writing (ENGL 332)

Senior Seminar in Creative Writing (ENGL 498)

Selected Publications

Deulen is co-creator and host of the literary podcast “Lit from the Basement”: www.LitFromTheBasement.com. The show, aimed at a general audience, utilizes literary works as a springboard to discuss personal narratives and contemporary issues.

Deulen is also a poet and essayist, and the author of three full-length collections and a chapbook:

Our Emotions Get Carried Away Beyond UsOur Emotions Get Carried Away Beyond Us (2015) raises questions about how Western philosophical and sociological structures perpetuate a culture of violence in America. The title was taken from an essay by Michel de Montaigne, who writes, “We are never ‘at home’: we are always outside ourselves. Fear, desire, hope impel us toward the future; they rob us of feelings and concern for what now is, in order to spend time over what will be—even when we ourselves shall be no more.” The book both upholds and challenges this idea, showing how the realm of emotions—of irrationality, of imagination—is the source of violence and beauty, destruction and creation, war and art. To show this, I engage both ancient and contemporary thinkers—Montaigne, Vitruvius, Freud, Lacan, Jung, Cixous—at times using their conceptual tools against them and analyzing moments from their lives through the lenses of their own theories.

Book CoverAmerican Libretto (2015) includes traditional lyric poems as well as lyric essays that take their titles after essays by Michel de Montaigne. Like Montaigne’s essays these poems juxtapose stories of personal experience with philosophy, politics, and ancient knowledge, moving from point to point by associative leaps rather than carefully arranged logical arguments. The image of fire recurs throughout as a metaphor for both destruction and renewal. The most prominent theme in the book is that of “awakening,” as the speakers of these poems always seem to be “waking to the light of our failures,” determined to see the world more clearly—to get the story right.

Book CoverChosen by Luis Alberto Urrea for the AWP Prize in Creative Nonfiction, my first book of personal essays, The Riots (2011), draws mostly from personal experience and explores the attractions and dangers of intimacy—how ideas of class, race, gender, and disability construct social and psychological barriers within close relationships. Structurally, the essays in the collection are diverse, alternating traditional narratives with what I call “still life” (brief lyric essays) and collages that characterize a particular time, place, and sensibility.

Book CoverThe title of my poetry collection, Lovely Asunder (2011), is from Gerard Manley Hopkins’s poem “The Wreck of the Deutschland.” Hopkins uses the phrase to describe starlight in a poem about the drowning of five Franciscan nuns. I amplify and modify this description to include other bright yet tragic female figures of western religion and myth (Eve, Lilith, Joan of Arc, Persephone), as well as other unnamed female speakers. To keep cynicism or darkness from overwhelming the collection, I strive for an emotional abundance and imagistic embellishment that echoes the lost paradisal opulence for which the speakers of the poems yearn as they move through the contemporary world. 

My poetry and creative nonfiction have appeared in anthologies and journals including After Montaigne: Contemporary Essayists Cover the Essays, Discoveries: New Writing from the Iowa Review, The Global Poetry Anthology 2013, A Face to Meet the Faces: Any Anthology of Contemporary Persona Poetry, Laurel Review, Hotel Amerika, Diagram, Utne Reader, American Literary Review, Iowa Review, Barrow Street, Fugue, Nimrod, Arts & Letters, North American Review, Kenyon Review Online, Crazyhorse, Basalt, The Journal, Missouri Review, Smartish Pace, Verse Daily, Indiana Review, Southern Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, and Crab Orchard Review.


Oregon Literary Fellowship, Oregon Literary Arts, 2018

Renjen Prize for Faculty Excellence, Willamette University, 2018

Faculty Achievement Award for Outstanding Teaching & Research, Willamette University, 2017


Interview: Danielle Deulen” by Michael Nye. The Missouri Review Audio (online, posted 9/21/12)  

Danielle Cadena Deulen” by Brian Brodeur.  How a Poem Happens (online, posted 2/18/12) 

Professional Affiliations

Poetry Series Editor for Acre Books in Cincinnati, Ohio

Member of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP)

More from Professor Deulen

Willamette University


900 State Street
Salem Oregon 97301 U.S.A.

Back to Top