BJ Omanson


333 Wagner Road
Morgantown, WV 26501

Author's Bio

Largely self-educated, BJ Omanson has spent the past fifty years working in five states as a barrel plater, punch press operator, furniture factory worker, autoworker, tree trimmer--- a cedar-shake mill worker & independent cedar-bolt cutter (supplying mills with cords of split cedar "bolts" salvaged from huge fallen logs up to 15 feet in diameter, half-buried under heaps of slash high up on the steep clear-cut slopes of the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State, while living for a year in primitive shelters along the Calawah and Hoh rivers)--- a truck driver, taxi driver, bus driver, gardener, day laborer, nurseryman, librarian, used-bookstore manager, ditch-digger, post-hole digger, gravedigger, garbage collector and custodian--- a greensmower & night waterman on golf courses in three states--- a nurse's aide on a locked ward for the criminally insane in two states--- a courier delivering library books to little mining towns high up in the Colorado Rockies--- and, finally, two years as a barn restorer, farmhand & teamster (driving draft horses) on a farm in Minnesota. ---All of which adds up to a classic writer's education of the old school.

For six years he worked on a part-time basis as the layout editor for the academic journal, Medieval Perspectives.

For ten years, from 2007 to 2017, as a living-history interpreter, he lived the daily life of an 18th-century frontier farmer at Prickett's Fort on the Monongahela River north of Fairmont, West Virginia.

He has published poetry & literary criticism in such wayward publications as The Hudson Review, Verse, Shenandoah, The Sewanee Review, Sparrow: A Yearbook of the Sonnet, The Illinois State Genealogical Quarterly, Illinois Heritage: the Magazine of the Illinois State Historical Society & The Stark County News.

One of his poems, "Nowhere to Nowhere," was recently chosen by Ted Kooser (former Poet Laureate of the United States), to appear in his weekly column, American Life in Poetry published in newspapers around the world. ~~~ Omanson has also published theatre & art reviews, regional history & military history.

In 1997, Omanson founded Monongahela Books as an online used-book store. Twenty years later, in 2017, with Omanson still at the helm as designer & editor-in-chief, Monongahela Books began publishing its own line of books, specializing in American military, social & cultural history.

Publications & Prizes

New Voices: University and College Poetry Prizes, 8th edition (Academy of American Poets, 2002)
Before the Clangor of the Gun: The First World War Poetry of JA Wyeth (Monongahela Books, 2019)
The Land Itself (Monongahela Books, 2019)
Old Locksley among the Ruins (Monongahela Books, 2018)
Two Nocturnes on Arnold's "Scholar Gipsy" (Monongahela Books, 2018)
Stark County Poems: War & the Depression come to Spoon River (Monongahela Books, 2017)
The Tower at the Edge of the Wood (Monongahela Books, 2017)
This Man's Army: A War in Fifty-Odd Sonnets (University of South Carolina Press, 2008)
North Stone Review
, , ,
The Hudson Review
Prizes won: 

Academy of American Poets College Prize, Rockford College, 1989

More Information

Gives readings: 
Travels for readings: 
Identifies as: 
Prefers to work with: 
Fluent in: 
Born in: 
Spoon River, IL
Raised in: 
Spoon River , IL
Please note: All information in the Directory is provided by the listed writers or their representatives.
Last update: Feb 16, 2021