William Kip Stratton - friends call him by his middle name - was born in Guthrie, Oklahoma, a
descendant on his mother's side from settlers who participated in the Great Land Run of 1889.
His birth father was a runaway dad, a rodeo cowboy from Denver and Albuquerque who figured
heavily in some ofStratton's later writing. His stepfather, who raised Stratton from the age of 3,
was a member of central Oklahoma's Waner family, a cousin of the Hall of Fame baseball
players Paul and Lloyd Waner. The Guthrie in which Stratton grew up was a racially polarized
agricultural and oilfield community with more than its share of poverty and strife. He attended
the Guthrie Public Schools during a time of great upheaval; he was active in student government
and often found himself embroiled in issues reflective of the discord affecting the town and the
nation at the time. He also played in rock bands, began writing in earnest, and developed a
lifelong interest in films. He began submitting articles to the Guthrie daily newspaper while still
a high school student.
He put himself through what's now known as the University of Central Oklahoma while
working as a newspaper reporter, taking a degree in English with honors. He later received a
Master's degree in English from the same school, submitting a novel for his thesis. While in
college, he studied fiction writing under the popular novelist Marilyn Harris (Springer) and had
the opportunity to participate in seminars and workshops by the likes of James Dickey, William
Stafford, Donald Hall, and N. Scott Momaday.
As a young man, he was active in Democratic Party politics, and while in graduate school, he
worked as the Reading Clerk and as a press aide for the Oklahoma State Senate. He also
managed a district attorney campaign around this time. (Later, he managed a short-lived
gubernatorial campaign.) He worked for the Oklahoma State Election Board for tlu·ee years -
the election board was affiliated with the Senate - before resigning and moving to a farm to write
That novel was unsuccessful and never published. He returned to journalism and eventually
worked on the Tulsa World. He also began writing for magazines on the side. His first
published magazine article appeared in Sports llustrated. He also contributed to the Texas
Observer, Outside, Americana, and Southern Magazine during this time. He contributed
numerous pieces to Oklahoma Today magazine, several of them long-form, and eventually
became one of the magazine's Contributing Editors. (He later published essays in D the
Magazine of Dallas, GQ, and Mayborn.)
In the late 1980's, he relocated to Central Texas, where he has resided since. For a number of
years, he has worked in high tech as his day job, including management positions at National
Instruments. His first book, Backyard Brawl, appeared in 2002. Chasing the Rodeo followed in
2005, as did a book he edited with his longtime friend Jan Reid, Splendor in the Short Grass.
That year he was inducted into the Texas Institute of Letters. In middle age, Stratton became
deeply involved in training as a boxer. This brought him into contact with prizefighters,
promoters, and managers. One person he befriended was two-time female boxing champion
Anissa Zamarron. In 2009, he published his book about her rise from a troubled adolescence to
prominence in women's boxing, Boxing Shadows. In 2011, his book of poetry, Dreaming Sam
Peckinpah, was published to acclaim. That same year, he was a speaker at the prestigious
Mayhorn Literary Nonfiction Conference. Floyd Patterson: The Fighting Life of Boxing's
Invisible Champion was published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2012. Also in 2012,
Stratton was elected President of the Texas Institute of Letters.
Finalist, Carr P. Collins Award, Texas Institute of Letters (twice)
Finalist, Bush Poetry Award, Texas Institute of Letters (once)
Finalist, Oklahoma Book Award (twice)
Inducted into the Texas Institute of Letters
Elected President of the Texas Institute of Letters in 2012
Speaker at the Mayhorn Nonfiction Conference, 2011
Born, raised and educated in Oklahoma. Writes about Oklahoma.
Floyd Patterson: The Fighting Life of Boxing's Invisible Champion, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012.
Dreaming Sam Peckinpah: Poetry, Ink Brush Press, 2011.
Boxing Shadows: The story of the unlikely rise
of Anissa Zamarron to the pinnacle of women's
boxing, University of Texas Press, 2009.
Chasing the Rodeo: On Wild Rides and Big
Dreams, Broken Hearts and Broken Bones, and
One Man's Search for the West, Harcourt, 2005.
Splendor in the Short Grass: The Grover Lewis
Reader ( co-editor), University of Texas Press, 2005.
Backyard Brawl: Inside the Blood Feud
Between Texas and Texas A&M, Crown, 2002. Also, published in Sports Illustrated, GQ, Texas Observer, Dallas Morning News, D the
Magazine of Dallas, Southern Magazine, Americana Magazine, Oklahoma Today, Mayhorn.