A Poet's Home on the Internet

Wally Swist's books include Huang Po and the Dimensions of Love, selected by Yusef Komunyakaa as a co-winner in the Crab Orchard Series Open Poetry Competition, and published by Southern Illinois University Press; and Winding Paths Worn through Grass, selected by Steven Schroeder and the Editorial Board of Virtual Artists Collective.

In reviewing Huang Po and the Dimensions of Love in the prestigious literary journal Pleiades, Julie Ann Brandt wrote of the book, "In Huang Po and the Dimensions of Love, Wally Swist invites us to contextualize his exquisite eco-poetry within a subtly Buddhist life philosophy, weaving personal landscapes into natural ones. Although Swist’s poems arrive at countless reminiscences of a lover who is gone, his speaker nonetheless succeeds in being present in each moment and quietly teaches us how individual persons are always present, perhaps, as facets of Huang Po’s conception of a transcendent, all-encompassing Mind." The link to the website for this issue of Pleiades is: www.ucmo.edu/pleiades/current_issue/.

Garrison Keillor reads the poem "Radiance," from Huang Po and the Dimensions of Love, on Writer's Almanac, the nationally-aired radio program on Tuesday, July 29, 2014. The link to the website of this longstanding and acclaimed public radio program sponsoring what is significant and resonant in literature is: http://writersalmanac.publicradio.org/.

His new poems have been published, or are forthcoming, in Appalachia: America's Longest-Running Journal of Mountaineering and Conservation, Clockhouse Review, Commonweal, Miramar, Mudfish, North American Review, and Rattle.

The announcement by Lamar University Press publishing "a new unique translation by 3 poets/scholars" of The Daodejing of Laozi by David Breeden, Steven Schroeder, and Wally Swist is rather special news. The website for the Lamar University Press forthcoming titles list is: http://www.lamaruniversitypress.org/coming-soon.php.

Southern Illinois University Press published Huang Po and the Dimensions of Love in August 2012. A link to the Crab Orchard Series Open Poetry Competition and Southern Illinois University Press is: http://www.CrabOrchardReview.siuc.edu/conpo2.html. Virtual Artists Collective, of Chicago, Illinois, published Winding Paths Worn through Grass in June 2012. The link to the VAC website is: http://vacpoetry.org.

He was invited to be a Visiting Writer in the 2012 Devil's Kitchen Literary Series held at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois, from the 22nd through the 26th of October, where he also taught an undergraduate poetry class, gave a public reading in the library auditorium, and was a participant on a literary panel. Two links regarding this significant and vibrant literary event include www.carbondalerocks.com/node/84345 or www.facebook.com/siupress/posts/375053815911175 and http://www.grassroots.siu.edu or http://english.siu.edu.

His new books include Velocity, the second volume of Swist's poetry published from Virtual Artists Collective, of Chicago, Illinois. The book was issued in June 2013. The link to the VAC website, specific to Velocity, is: http://vacpoetry.org/velocity/. Also, The Windbreak Pine, New and Uncollected Haiku, 1986-2013, which was the recipient of The 2013 Snapshot Press Book Award, will be published by the press. Snapshot Press, located in Ormskirk, U.K., is an internationally-respected publisher of contemporary haiku literature. The link to the Snapshot Press website is: http://www.snapshotpress.co.uk.

In April 2013, Swist and poet and Editor of Virtual Artists Collective, Steven Schroeder, who is a longstanding faculty member at the University of Chicago, were invited to Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut as Visiting Writers. Schroeder and Swist co-taught a creative writing class of colleague and host Jonas Zdanys, an American poet who is also well-known for his contribution of translating major Lithuanian writers into English. Schroeder and Swist also gave an extended reading of their work in the Ryan Matura Library on campus. The reading was sponsored by the library and the English Department of Sacred Heart University. Also, the event was filmed.

Swist's poems have most recently appeared, or are forthcoming, in a variety of journals and anthologies, including Appalachia: America's Longest-Running Journal of Mountaineering & Conservation, Blueline, The Cape Rock, Connecticut Review, Crab Orchard Review, From the Other World: Poems in Memory of James Wright (Duluth, MN: Lost Hills Books, 2008), Haiku in English: The First Hundred Years (New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company, 2013), Sunken Garden Poetry: 1992-2011 (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2012), Solace in So Many Words (Lindenhurst, IL: Hourglass Books, 2011), Spiritus (issued from The Johns Hopkins University Press), Theodate (the online poetry journal of the Hill-Stead Museum), Where the River Goes: The Nature Tradition in English-Language Haiku (Ormskirk, U.K.: Snapshot Press, 2013), and Wild River Review.

He is also the editor of Moscow Ballet's Great Russian Nutcracker, illustrated by Olga Larionova, adapted by Susan Dunlap, produced by Dan Talmi, and designed by Aldo Gonzalez (Pittsfield, MA: The Moscow Ballet/Talmi Entertainment), which was published in hardcover in October 2012. The website address for the Moscow Ballet is: www.nutcracker.com/.

The Writers' Fund Committee of PEN American Center, of New York City, awarded a grant for funding Swist in June 2012. The website address for this eminent "association of writers and editors working to advance literature to defend free expression and to foster international literary fellowship." The website address for PEN America Center is: www.pen.org/.

Also, the Authors League Fund, of New York City, announced an award of financial aid for him in June 2012. The assistance is provided by The Emergency Relief Program of the Authors Guild Foundation, Inc., which was first established by The Author's League of America, Inc., in 1917. The website address for this humanitarian and literary organization is: www.authorsleaguefund.org.

The Authors League Fund also provided an unprecedented second award of financial aid to Swist, within a twelve-month period, in February 2013.

In addition, in May 2012, he was awarded a Philip Whalen Memorial Grant from Poets in Need, of Berkeley, California, whose link is: www.poetsinneed.org/. Poets in Need is a non-profit organization, founded in 2000, that provides emergency assistance to poets "who have an established presence in the literary community and a substantive body of work."

Andrew McGowan, President of the William Butler Yeats Society of New York City, announced in March 2012 that the poem "The Grace of It" was awarded second prize by the 2012 judge, Bill Zavatsky. The poem since its being entered into the contest has been retitled as "Velocity," and this finished version will be published in the William Butler Yeats Society of New York City newsletter announcing this year's winners and honorable mention designees. The link for the W. B. Yeats Society is: www.yeatssociety.org/.

Well-respected journalist Steve Pfarrer published a feature article in the Friday, February 3, 2012 (Vol. 46, No. 11) issue of the Amherst Bulletin, entitled "A Visit to Wally Swist's World: Award-winning Poet Inspired by Nature, Spirituality." The website address is: www.gazettenet.com/amherstbulletin.

Also, the new Timberline Press, Co-edited by Steven Schroeder and his daughter Regina Schroeder, published Blessing and Homage, a collection of twenty-four new and recent poems, in a lavishly-produced letterpress limited edition on handmade paper. The book is reminiscent of the press work of master printer Walter Hamady, whose design and production Regina Schroeder's "deep kiss" printing style epitomizes. It was the first volume to be published in the new Timberline Press series. The link to the press is: www.timberlinepress.com/. The volume was the fourth letterpress limited edition of Swist's work to be published by Timberline Press.

In 2011, two of his poems were nominated for Pushcart Prizes: "Recognition" was nominated by the editors of FutureCycle and "Backlit in a Wash of Light" was nominated by the editors of EarthSpeak.

He has read his work thoughout New England, including in the Distinguished Lecture Series at the Lenox Library, in Lenox, Massachusetts, a series hosted by Boston University Professor Jeremy Yudkin; at the 20th Anniversary of western Massachusetts Recycling, to open the program for keynote speaker Massachusetts Senator Stan Rosenberg, followed by Congressman Richard Neal and Springfield Mayor Dominic Sarno; in Julia de Burgos Park, in Willimantic, Connecticut, an event sponsored by Curbstone Press; and in a reading entitled Poets Living in New England (Creative Session) at the 40th Anniversary of the Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA), in Boston.

A recording of a poem ("Ode to the Omelette"), from his performance in the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival, accompanied by jazz cellist Eugene Friesen, a member of the Paul Winter Consort, held at the Hill-Stead Museum in Farmington, Connecticut, is archived at npr.org. The poem was originally aired nationally on Scott Simon's Weekend Edition Saturday and introduced by NPR host Linda Wertheimer. The archived link for this is: www.npr.org/programs/wesat/features/2003/sunkengarden/.

He is a recipient of two Artist Fellowships in Poetry from the Connecticut Commission on the Arts (1978 and 2003) as well as two back-to-back one-year writing residencies (2003-2005) at Fort Juniper, the home of the late Robert Francis. A documentary film regarding his work, primarily shot at Fort Juniper, In Praise of the Earth: The Poetry of Wally Swist, was released by filmmaker Elizabeth Wilda (Hadley, Massachusetts: WildArts, 2008). A link for the film is: www.amherstcinema.org/films-and-events/praise-earth.

A recent chapbook of his poetry, Mount Toby Poems, published in a letterpress limited edition in 2009 by Timberline Press, of Fulton, Missouri, was chosen by Clarence Wolfshohl, the founder of the press, as the final volume published by him in the press's thirty-five year publishing history. It was the third collection Timberline Press published of Swist's poetry in a letterpress limited edition.

An earlier full-length book, The New Life (West Hartford, Connecticut: Plinth Books, 1998), was chosen twice by Small Press Distribution (SPD) for their list of poetry Best-sellers, in November 2007 and in March/April 2009. The link for Plinth Books is: www.plinthbooks.org/index.html.

He is also the author of a scholarly monograph, The Friendship of Two New England Poets, Robert Frost and Robert Francis: A Lecture Presented at the Robert Frost Farm in Derry, New Hampshire (Lewiston, New York: The Edwin Mellen Press, 2009). Their link is: www.mellenpress.com/.

He has taught in the Connecticut Poetry-in-the-Schools Program and was a mentor and teacher, for several years, in the Night of Fresh Voices Program, in which he worked with gifted high school students, through the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival, at the Hill-Stead Museum in Farmington, Connecticut.

His books and papers are archived in Special Collections at the Jones Library in Amherst, Massachusetts and in the American Haiku Archives in the State Library of California, in Sacramento, California.

Complete bibliography

{Photo credit: Al Malpa, The Willimantic Chronicle, May 2009}

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