William B. Patrick is a writer whose works have been published or produced in several genres: nonfiction, poetry, fiction, screenwriting, and drama. His most recent book, The Call of Nursing: Voices from the Front Lines of Health Care, a Studs Terkel-like collection of occupational profiles, was published by Hudson Whitman/Excelsior College Press in July, 2013. In its twenty-three candid self-portraits, The Call of Nursing captures an inside view of a profession that hides in plain sight, taking us behind the curtain of silence that often hangs between us — the patients who rely on the healthcare system — and the women and men who form the backbone of that system.
Saving Troy, William Patrick’s creative nonfiction chronicle of a year spent living with the professional firefighters and paramedics of the Troy, NY Fire Department’s 1st Platoon and accompanying them to emergency medical calls, rescues, and fires, was published in 2005. Dennis Smith, author of Report from Engine Co. 82, as well as the recent bestseller Report from Ground Zero, spoke of Saving Troy as “an important, exciting, and extremely well-done narrative.” From that experience, Mr. Patrick also wrote a screenplay, Fire Ground, as well as a radio play, Rescue, which was commissioned by the BBC for their Season of American Thirty Minute Plays and aired world-wide on BBC 3 in 1997. A paperback edition of Saving Troy was published by the State University of New York Press in 2009, and an e-book was released by Hudson Whitman/Excelsior College Press in October, 2011.
Mr. Patrick wrote a teleplay, Rachel’s Dinner, starring Olympia Dukakis and Peter Gerety, that was aired nationally on ABC-TV in 1991, and his third feature-length screenplay, Brand New Me, was optioned by Force Ten Productions of Los Angeles and allegedly used as the basis for the remake of The Nutty Professor, which was the top-grossing hit comedy of the 1996 summer. Mr. Patrick reached a successful resolution with Eddie Murphy and Universal Studios over this issue late in 1998. His latest screenplay, Wild Turkey, is a feature-length sports/romantic comedy about two female jockeys and a down-on-his-luck thoroughbred horse trainer.
William Patrick’s We Didn’t Come Here for This, a hybrid of creative nonfiction and poetry, was published by BOA Editions in 1999. As Fred Chappell states in his introduction, this book of dramatic poems and accompanying family photographs “is poetry on its own terms, a kind of utterance that does not borrow from books the sometimes stilted magnificence of traditional literature or the sometimes exhibitionist quirkiness of contemporary writing... I hear it speaking to me, anyhow, in a voice easy and open, almost casual in tone, and with a level, earnest honesty, saying that, yes, its events are ’regular,’ not extraordinary in the least — but as important as sunlight.” Booklist said We Didn’t Come Here for This is “a powerful chamber suite for father, mother, and son that begs to be performed.” Richard Selzer referred to the collection as “a triumph. Patrick’s best and strongest work yet.” And in a starred review, Kirkus Reviews called the book a “marvelous memoir-in-poetry and a wonderful hybrid, written in a voice that’s compassionate, fresh and American, without ever proclaiming itself such.”
An earlier collection of Mr. Patrick’s poetry, These Upraised Hands, a book of narrative poems and dramatic monologues, was published by BOA Editions in 1995. One of the poems in that volume, “Kindergarten Day”, was featured on Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac, on National Public Radio.
Mr. Patrick’s novel, Roxa: Voices of the Culver Family, won the 1990 Great Lakes Colleges Association New Writers Award for the best first work of fiction, and added Mr. Patrick’s name and work to the diverse list of Great Lakes fiction award recipients that includes Jane Hamilton, Louise Erdrich, Richard Ford, Rosellen Brown, Brett Laidlaw, and Alice Munro. Deliverance author James Dickey, in his quote which appeared on the back of that book, pronounced Roxa “a daring, go-for-broke experiment that works. In this brilliantly orchestrated narrative for voices, Mr. Patrick refines the standard boundaries of poetry and prose fiction until they’re translucent, and he opens up exciting new multi-dimensional possibilities for other artists with the courage and imagination to follow his trail-blazing example.”
William Patrick has received grants from, among others, the Academy of American Poets, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Massachusetts Artists Foundation, the Virginia Commission for the Arts, and the New York Foundation for the Arts.
Mr. Patrick has taught the writing of fiction, nonfiction, screenplays, and poetry at the University at Albany, The College of St. Rose, Old Dominion University, Salem State College, and Onondaga Community College. Since 1996, he has served four times as a Visiting Writer for the New York State Writer’s Institute at the University at Albany, teaching courses in screenwriting, adapting short stories for the screen, and fiction and film. Mr. Patrick founded and teaches at The New York State Summer Young Writers Institute at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY, as well, and he has taught screenwriting at the Chautauqua Institute and with inmates at Raybrook Federal Correctional Center near Saranac Lake, NY. Currently, he is a member of the faculty of Fairfield University’s Master of Fine Arts Program in Creative Writing, and developmental editor for Hudson Whitman/Excelsior College Press.