Westmont professor Paul J. Willis has been named the next poet laureate for the City of Santa Barbara, to serve as ceremonial bard over the next two years. One of seven nominees for the post, Willis was selected based on his published work, community involvement, and educational background. Willis, whose work is infused with a love of the outdoors and his Christian faith, said he took to poetry about 25 years ago, in part because it fit in better with his schedule as a college professor. “It’s a very sad feeling to start classes in September with just half a novel written,” he said. “But with poetry, you wake up early in the morning and write something and feel a measure of completeness.” As poet laureate, Willis will be paid $1,000 a year; in exchange he will be expected to write several poems a year and read them during various civic occasions. Willis will be the city’s fourth poet laureate since the program was first inaugurated.