• B.A. Dartmouth College, 1962
  • Ph.D. English, University of Minnesota, 1967

Before COA

Bill Carpenter, full-time faculty member in Literature and Writing, grew up in central Maine. He was Assistant Professor of English & Humanities, and the Inland Steel Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Chicago until 1972, when he saw the startup announcement from College of the Atlantic and decided to change his life.

He became the first faculty member at COA and has been teaching here ever since with a short stint as faculty dean in the eighties. 

Scholarly and Creative Interests

His intellectual interests are in modernism and psychoanalysis; his literary and teaching styles tend toward comic exaggeration. He has been an NEA Fellow and a Fellow of the Society for Human Ecology. 

More About Me

Bill’s escapes from the written word are mainly aboard the 30-foot sloop “Northern Light,” which he sails with his family out of Castine, Maine.


Bill’s most recent novel, Silence (2021), examines the bitter legacy of 9/11, terrorism, and the nature of conflict and loss as Iraq War veteran Nick Colonna finds solace on a Maine island that young Julia Fletcher is passionately trying to preserve. Silence received the 2021 Independent Publishers Gold Medal in Military Fiction and was a finalist for the MWPA Maine Fiction award. 

His first book of poetry, The Hours of Morning (1980), won the AWP award, followed by Rain (1985) which won the S.F. Morse award, and a collaboration with the artist Robert Shetterley, Speaking Fire at Stones. His novel A Keeper of Sheep was nominated for the ALA gay/lesbian award in 1995. The Wooden Nickel (Little-Brown 2002) is a lobster- and whale-oriented novel of which the New York Times said, “Melville would have approved.” His work is widely represented in periodicals and anthologies, including The Maine Poets (2003).