Charles Harper Webb

Called “Southern California’s most inventive and accessible poet,” Charles Harper Webb is the nation’s foremost proponent of stand up poetry. A former professional rock singer/guitarist and licensed psychotherapist, he is professor of English at California State University, Long Beach. His latest of twelve collections of poetry is Sidebend World (University of Pittsburgh, 2018). Webb has published a collection of essays, A Million MFAs Are Not Enough (Red Hen, 2016), and edited Stand Up Poetry: An Expanded Anthology (University of Iowa, 2002), used as a text in many universities. His awards include a Whiting Writer’s Award, a Tufts Discovery Award, and a fellowship from the Guggenheim Foundation. An avid fly-fisherman, he lives in Los Angeles, CA.

All Books

Ursula Lake

Charles Harper Webb

Publication Date: May 17, 2022

$17.95 Tradepaper

ISBN: 9781636280219


In the fast-paced, sexy, and very scary literary thriller Ursula Lake, a husband and wife trying to save their marriage and a rock musician trying to get his career back on track find big trouble, natural and possibly supernatural, in the spellbinding wilds of British Columbia.

Former best friends Scott and Errol meet unexpectedly at Oso Lake, a remote Canadian fly-fishing paradise where, five years before, fresh out of college, they had the time of their lives. Their situations, though, have changed, their high hopes quashed by workaday realities and, in Errol’s case, marriage to Claire, who has come with him trying to stave off divorce. But Oso Lake has changed. The fall before, a woman’s severed head was left in a campfire pit beside the lake. The shadow cast by her murder is darkened further by a fire-scarred white truck driver who claims to be a long-dead Native shaman and has plans to eradicate not only Scott, Errol, and Claire, but all of Western civilization. The beauty of the wilderness becomes, every day, more threatening and perverse. But the worst danger the vacationers face may be themselves.


“Nobody handles language like a poet. So whenever I see a novel written by a poet I admire, I know I’m in for a treat. Charles Harper Webb’s Ursula Lake is scary, emotionally wrenching, sexy, tender, and full of natural beauty. It’s also lively, fast-paced, and fun to read as it rips into the comforting lies that prop civilization up. In this novel, Webb shows why he’s won so many writing awards. Take my advice and plunge head-first into Ursula Lake.”
—Ron Koertge, author of Olympusville

Ursula Lake is a rare novel that is equal parts lyrical and suspenseful. Charles Webb uses his poet’s voice to weave a haunting tale that marries the latent horrors of the natural world to the dark hearts of the humans who inhabit it.”
—Ivy Pochoda, author of These Women

A Million MFAs Are Not Enough

Charles Harper Webb

Publication Date: November 14, 2016

$18.95 Tradepaper

ISBN: 978-1-59709-724-6


A Million MFAs Are Not Enough takes aim at the dullness that has cost poetry its general audience, and scores a direct hit. This collection of essays by Charles Harper Webb, the man called “Southern California’s most inventive and accessible poet” shows how American poetry has betrayed the general reader, and how poets can win those readers back with poems that, like the best fiction, grab the reader and hold on.

Something is rotten in the state of American poetry. With respect to audience and artistry, poetry has shot itself in many portions of its anatomy, and keeps blasting. The fact that vast numbers of poems are published every year, and a large number of Creative Writing students and graduates combine to read a few of them, does not mean that poetry is on the right track. As an acclaimed poet and veteran teacher of poetry, Charles Harper Webb knows what it takes for a poem to grab a reader’s attention and hold on. As a former rock singer/guitarist and a licensed psychotherapist, he understands how to connect with an audience. A Million MFAs Are Not Enough shows–with concrete tips that working writers can use–how poetry can return to cultural relevance again. He champions poems that enlighten as they entertain–as these extraordinary essays do.

Amplified Dog

Charles Harper Webb

Publication Date: February 28, 2006

$15.95 Tradepaper

ISBN: 978-1-59709-022-3


Charles Harper Webb’s eccentric and distinct writing style makes this collection of poetry a funny and charmingly memorable read. A melting pot of pop culture, historical references, and everyday life, Webb’s poems are refreshingly candid and straightforward.


Charles Harper Webb Discusses URSULA LAKE on Fish Untamed Podcast

Charles Harper Webb is a Professor of English at California State University, former psychotherapist, poet, and author. His recent book, Ursula Lake, is a dark and thrilling story about a husband and wife trying to save their marriage and a rock musician trying to get his career back, all centered around a fly fishing trip […]

Charles Harper Webb Interviewed by The Culture Buzz on 98.9 FM!

“His background as an award-winning poet weaves a special storytelling precision as Charles Harper Webb makes his debut as a novelist with Ursula Lake. This thriller delivers a taut, captivating story, rich with its characters, settings and pace.”

Interlitq’s Californian Poets Interview Charles Harper Webb

DG: Your upcoming novel is scheduled to be released in May 2022. Without divulging too much, can you give readers a glimpse into the project and possibly also discuss the inspiration behind the work? CHW: The easiest way to answer your first question is to quote the so-called tag-line for the book: “In the fast-paced, […]

Charles Harper Webb guest wrote for Psychology Today!

My first memory of kindergarten is when I’d made an airplane by crossing two thin cylinders of modeling clay. As I “flew” my plane around the room, a bigger boy with a much sturdier airplane rushed up and slammed his into mine, smashing mine into a blob. He then raced away, laughing as I wailed. If he’d enjoyed smashing […]

Charles Harper Webb, author of URSULA LAKE, guest writes for Psychology Today!

Surely one of the most vivid and memorable metaphors in psychology is Carl Jung’s shadow. Similar in many ways to Freud’s “Id,” the term shadow helps us to visualize the way in which troublesome human instincts and impulses may be consigned to darkness within the psyche. I picture a troop of chimpanzees, caged up in the dark, getting more […]