Roger on the Reservoir

Roger Dunsmore came from Penn State University to the University of Montana, Missoula, as a freshman composition instructor in 1963, and continued on in the UM Humanities Program (which had been guided by the scholar/gad fly Leslie Fiedler) until 2003. Dunsmore spent the 1966-67 academic year traveling solo in Europe, mostly Greece and Scotland (Scotland by bike). He taught his first course in American Indian Literature, “Indian Autobiographies,” in 1969, and received an MFA in Creative Writing (poetry) under the guidance of Richard Hugo and Madeline DeFreese in 1971. He was a founding member of the Round River Experiment in Environmental Education the same year. His first volume of poetry, On the Road to Sleeping Child Hotsprings, also 1971, was reissued in a revised, enlarged edition in 1977. Between 1971 and 1974 he built an octagonal, cedar bark house with two friends on TV Mountain outside Missoula. From 1976-2003 he taught in the Wilderness and Civilization Program of the Wilderness Institute in the Forestry School at UM. In 1983 and again in 1987 he received NEH summer fellowships to study American Indian Literature. During 1988-89 he was the Arizona Humanities Council’s Scholar in Residence at the largest Indian high school in the U.S., on the Navajo Nation. In 1991 and again in 1997 he was the Exchange Fellow between UM and Shanghai International Studies University in mainland China. Earth's Mind, his collection of essays on American Indian Literature was published by the University of New Mexico Press in 1997. In 2001 he guided the Twenty-second Annual Wilderness Lecture Series, “The Poetics of Wilderness,” the Proceeding of which, edited by Dunsmore, being published by UM in 2002. After two years of retirement, he resumed full-time teaching in the English Department at UM Western in Dillon, Mt. in 2005. In 2005 and again in 2007 he was short-listed to the governor for the post of Montana Poet Laureate. In 2006 he worked as one of nine editors under the leadership of Lowell Jaeger compiling Poets Across the Big Sky, an anthology of Montana poetry, 2007. His essay on four Montana poets and his own poems have appeared most recently in Drumlummon Views, the on-line journal of the Drumlummon Institute in Helena, Mt. His fourth volume of poems, You’re Just Dirt, was published by FootHills Publishing in 2010. Humanities Montana honored him as a Humanities Hero in 2012. He is married to the poet, painter, and Yoga practitioner, Jenni Fallein, and facilitates the Staple-Gunner poetry project from their home in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. Between them they have five children and four grandchildren.