A Poet's Home on the Internet

Christine Cote, Editor and Publisher of Shanti Arts, LLC, of Brunswick, Maine accepts the author's newest collection of poems, entitled The Map of Eternity, which collects 66 poems and paginates at 130pp. Most of these two-and three-page poems were written from September 2016 through January 2018, with the exception of the third, and last, section of the book, which collects poems which may have been started as many as three or four years ago but only just finished in the last few months. The poems address themes as diverse as political issues, from a progressive and far left-of-center point of view, and childhood memories, as in the title poem. The poems also, as is the author's practice, express the experience of immersion in the natural world, which also offers a spiritual connection to the divine. The book is expected to be published sometime in 2018. The link for Shanti Arts, LLC is: https://www.shantiarts.co/. To be affiliated with such a press as fine as Shanti Arts and to publish multiple titles with them is a true act of grace for which there is nothing but a true depth of gratitude.

Lynne DeSilva-Johnson, Editor and Publisher of The Operating System, of Brooklyn, NY announces the publication of Singing for Nothing: Selected Nonfiction as Literary Memoir in her catalog, which can found online at: www.theoperatingsystem.org. This innovative and exciting press lists the publication of this new book in 2018. Pre-orders can be made through the online catalog of The Operating System.

Singing for Nothing was written over a period of 40 years. The essays, reviews, and other selected prose collected here constitute the author’s poetic ruminations, his political and social thought, and his perennial philosophy over that time—to now. Much of the book was composed only recently in an attempt to push the traditional boundaries of nonfiction and memoir. Each of the eight chapters are introduced with anecdotal material from Swist’s literary life, which albeit was impoverished financially, at times, but nearly always rich with his meetings with authors and his luminous reading through the years.

Jane Brox, award-winning nonfiction writer, and author of several books, including Clearing Land (North Point Press, 2004), distinguishes Singing for Nothing as: "Wally Swist’s life has been steeped in poetry and guided by a steadfast belief in the power of literature. As book seller, a book creator, a poet, an essayist, a reviewer, and a generous supporter of other writers, he inhabits a world in which reading is indivisible from writing, and can’t be untangled from life itself. So, it seems utterly fitting that Singing for Nothing from Street to Street maps that life by way of his essays and reviews. Through the assiduous shaping of his critical commentary on literature from around world and close to home, Swist has created a distinctive, thought-provoking memoir that is also a celebration of literature itself."

Topics include reviews of the work of significant poets and writers; a chapter regarding haiku, an often misunderstood Japanese poetic form, and its intersection with Zen; a few academic essays regarding pop culture, the science of measurement, and the history of retirement in America; several blogs regarding psycho-spirituality; and a guided morning meditation using the chakras closes this book, which also includes some of this award-winning poet’s poetry. The volume’s subtitle, Selected Nonfiction as Literary Memoir, is apropos for what this book both embraces and what it explores by pressing the limits of traditional literary boundaries.

Also, John Hanson Mitchell, the eminent stylist and author of many fascinating books, such as Ceremonial Time (University Presses of New England, 3rd Edition, 2013) and Walking towards Walden (Counterpoint,1997), offers his endorsement of the work that: "It turns out Wally Swist is a skilled essayist and reviewer as well as a celebrated poet and a decidedly eclectic reader. Singing for Nothing from Street to Street (the title alone says something about the condition of poetry) is a refined review of the work of both known and overlooked contemporary poets, as well as essays and reviews of the work of a range of artists, writers, and even scientists. The accounts are so intriguing, even for those unfamiliar with the subterranean world of poetry or obscure literature, after reading this book one would want to head off to the nearest library or bookstore and see what you’ve missed."

John Barlow, Editor and Publisher of Snapshot Press, of Ormskirk, U.K., releases The Windbreak Pine: New and Uncollected Haiku, 1985-2015 at the end of December 2016. Copies were sent to the author from England and arrived on January 3rd, 2017. So, the New Year has been made sweet by this and the news from Lynne DeSilva-Johnson and The Operating System for the publication of the forthcoming literary memoir.

The Windbreak Pine includes 116 haiku written over a 30 year-period, and is published in the elegant format which Snapshot Press books are known for, including folded front flaps on both covers, otherwise known as French folds. The link for this book and for other Snapshot Press titles is: www.snapshotpress.co.uk/books/the_windbreak_pine.htm.

Christine Cote, Publisher of Shanti Arts LLC, as well as Still Point Arts Quarterly, announces that Candling the Eggs, a collection of 65 poems, written between 2013 and 2015, that paginates at approximately 112pp., is accepted for publication by this esteemed press, which makes a practice of "honoring the connection between the arts, nature, and spirit." Shanti Arts LLC, whose offices are located in Brunswick, Maine, can be referenced online at: https://www.shantiarts.co/. A distinguished list of their books are included there.

Karen Kelsay, award-winning poet who publishes Kelsay Books/White Violet Press, out of Hemet, California, accepts the book-length manuscript, The View of the River, which collects poems largely written from January through August 2016. The book is scheduled to be published in September 2017. State of Connecticut Poet Laureate, Rennie McQuilkin, writes of both the author of and the poems in The View of the River as: “Wally Swist is a poet of the transcendent. What appears in his lines is incandescent, and always between and within those lines, divinity is implicit—sometimes human, sometimes creaturely—as in ‘Green Herons,’ where one brilliant Green mingles ‘with all of its brethren // whom we did not see but who were ardently / peering at us through their veil of viridescence.’” The link to this press which publishes "beautiful books in a timely manner" is: www.kelsaybooks.com/.

Elainie Lillios, Professor of Music at Bowling Green University in Ohio, announces that the premiere of her composition based on the poem, "After Long Drought," will be performed on Thursday, June 23rd, at 7:30 p.m., in Jordan Hall at the New England Conservatory of Music, in Boston, by percussionist Scott Deal. The poem and its title were revised from the original poem "August," which appeared in Winding Paths Worn through Grass (Chicago, IL: Virtual Artists Collective, 2012) and provided inspiration for Professor Lillios for her composition for vibraphone and electroaccoustical music. It will be the second performance of a composition by Elainie Lillios at Jordan Hall based on one of the author's poems. In June 2014, Scott Deal performed a piece based on the poem, "The Rush of the Brook Stills the Mind." Professor Lillios has been consistently creating electroacoustical compositions based on the author's work now for what has been nearly a decade. The creative synergy between Elainie Lillios and the author has been an extraordinary artistic connection which has been a perennial beneficence. The link to the musical programs at The Summer Institute for Contemporary Performance Practice (SICPP) is: http://sicpp.org/concerts/. A link to Part 2 of the 2014 Jordan Hall performance by percussionist Scott Deal is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xdPKO-ZrkC4.

Invocation was published by Lamar University Literary Press in September 2015. The book collects 71 poems and paginates at 134 pages. The poetry the book includes was written from 2011 through 2014, and contains some of the author's most accomplished and most mature work to date. To have this book published by this press is a triumph for the work as well as for the author. The link to Lamar University Press is: www.lamaruniversitypress.org.

In April 2016, The Operating System, edited by the ever-gracious and proactive Lynne DeSilva-Johnson, published an essay the author wrote regarding the work of the former late State of Connecticut Poet Laureate, Leo Connellan. The link is: http://www.theoperatingsystem.org/5th-annual-napomo-303030-day-12-wally-....

In early December 2015, Susan Pieters, Co-editor of Pulp Literature, a journal based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, announces that "What Is Essential," a poem that appeared in Issue 7, is nominated for a Pushcart Prize. The link for this qualitatively strong and exciting flat-spined journal and for its nominations for 2015 is: http://pulpliterature.com/pushcart-picks/.

In November 2015, Editor Christen Kincaid, Editor of Finishing Line Press, of Georgetown, Kentucky, informs the author that Leah Maines, the Press Director, has nominated the following poem, entitled “A Holiday Menu: Respite and Cheer,” from the chapbook Things I Know I Love: Odes to Food, for a Pushcart Prize. The link for Finishing Line Press is: https://finishinglinepress.com/.

Earlier in 2015, Lamar University Press published "a new unique translation by 3 poets/scholars" of The Daodejing: A New Interpretation (ISBN: 978-0-9915321-7-9) by David Breeden, Steven Schroeder, and Wally Swist. The book was published on January 15, 2015. A book launching was held at the Broadside Bookshop, in Northampton, Massachusetts, on Wednesday, May 13th, at 6:30 p.m. The following link gives a few more specifics: http://www.lamaruniversitypress.org/coming-soon.php.

A review of Huang Po and the Dimensions of Love, (Southern Illinois University Press, 2012) appears in the October 25, 2015 online issue of Rhizometic Ideas by Zoetic Press. It is written by Timothy Leyrson, a poet, essayist, and Durwood fellow in the University of Missouri-Kansas City MFA Creative Writing & Mass Media program. Of the many superlatives Timothy Leyrson attributes the poetry in the book, he writes: " Throughout his twentieth collection of poetry (including his chapbook publications) Swist uses the couplet with the finesse of a fencer wielding a rapier and dagger. Each line expresses sound, rhythm, and emotion which bring the reader into Swist’s world, hiking alongside him; yet, the partnering line balances the reader, parrying their progression, slowing the pace, forcing one to truly examine the scenery Swist presents." The link to this journal's website is: www.rhizomaticideas.com.

Wally Swist's books also 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 and recent poems have been published, or are forthcoming, in Appalachia: America's Longest-Running Journal of Mountaineering and Conservation, Blueline, carte blanche (Canada), Contemporary Verse 2 (Canada), Clockhouse Review, a national literary review published by the Clockhouse Writer's Conference in conjunction with Goddard College, Commonweal, Dappled Things, The Galway Review (Ireland), Kentucky Review, The Linnet's Wings (Ireland), Miramar, Mudfish, North American Review, Poetry Salzburg (Germany), Presence (U.K.), Pulp Literature (Canada), Rattle, Tuck: A Magazine for Discerning Readers (U.K.), upstreet, and Verse Daily.

Also, a recent essay/review, entitled "Poetic Alchemy: Wislawa Szymborska's Map: Collected and Last Poems, appeared in the annual online journal All Roads Will Lead You Home. The link is: http://vacpoetry.org/journal/.

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, 1986-2015, which was the recipient of The 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 also been published in a number of anthologies, including From the Other World: Poems in Memory of James Wright (Duluth, MN: Lost Hills Books, 2008), Solace in So Many Words (Lindenhurst, IL: Hourglass Books, 2011), Sunken Garden Poetry: 1992-2011 (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2012), Haiku in English: The First Hundred Years (New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company, 2013), Where the River Goes: The Nature Tradition in English-Language Haiku (Ormskirk, U.K.: Snapshot Press, 2013), Lay Bare the Canvas: New England Poets on Art (Providence, RI: The Poetry Loft/Providence Public Library, 2014), A Mighty Room: A Collection of Poems Written in Emily Dickinson's Bedroom (Amherst, MA: Emily Dickinson Museum, 2015), Weatherings (Lexington, KY: FutureCycle Press, Good Works Series, 2015), and World Enough Writers Ice Cream Anthology (Kingston, WA: World Enough Writers/Concrete Wolf 2016).

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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