William Walsh – Encyclopedia of New Georgia

William Walsh is a writer, teacher, editor, and interviewer for some of today’s best-known authors. A southern narrative poet, his work is influenced by David Bottoms, James Dickey, Theodore Roethke and Sharon Olds.

Born January 12, 1961 in Jamestown, New York, he is the son of William J. Walsh Jr., a salesman, and Elaine Card Walsh, a human resources administrator. Walsh received his AA in liberal arts from Dekalb College (later Georgia State University, Perimeter College) in 1983, his AB in English from Georgia State University in 1985, and his MFA in creative writing from Vermont College in Montpelier in 1991.

William Walsh
Courtesy of William Walsh

A storyteller in the tradition of David Bottoms, Walsh’s poems are narrative explorations of place, memory, imagination and regret. His first complete collection, Awareness of my other being (2005), playfully analyzes the fractured experiences of American life. Memory and travel are recurring themes in his second book, Lost in the white ruins (2014), inspired by a verse by James Wright: “I am lost in the beautiful white ruins of America”. In this collection, Walsh examines the and if of childhood and the regrets of the loss, memories of childhood friends, fishing trips with his father and the search “to find what makes us whole”.

Walsh’s fourth book of poetry, Fly fishing in Times Square (2020), received the 2018 Editor’s Book Award from Červená Barva Press. Place and memory are again at the forefront of these poems, and in various settings—Times Square, North Georgia, Wyoming, and Montana—the speaker longs to correct the past or make sense of the present. In the title poem, “Fly Fishing in Times Square, 2015”, a tourist visits New York but is preoccupied with thoughts of the Wyoming countryside. In “Why Do Otters Hold Hands”, the speaker struggles to come to terms with his teenage daughter’s growing independence, but comforts himself by recalling a documentary they had watched about otters; While the animals sleep, they hold hands “so as not to move away”. Walsh’s poems celebrate such moments of insight, and throughout his journey he finds them with family and strangers, in domestic and natural contexts, and in experiences both mundane and profound.

Fly fishing in Times Square
Courtesy of William Walsh

In addition to his poetry, Walsh has interviewed over a hundred important contemporary authors and published these interviews in over fifty journals, including The Georgia Review. A collection of his interviews, Speak So I Know You: Interviews with Southern Writers (1990), was a finalist for Georgian Author of the Year and includes conversations with thirty-one writers, many of whom are closely associated with Georgia’s literary life: David Bottoms, Pat Conroy, James Dickey, Terry Kay , Ferrol Sams, John Stone, Stuart Woods, Anne Rivers Siddons and Philip Lee Williams. Other notable interviews were conducted with Rita Dove, Joseph Brodsky, Harry Crews, Andrew Lytle, Lee Smith, Mary Hood and Nobel Laureate Czeslaw Milosz. Walsh also edited the collections Under the Rock Umbrella: Contemporary American Poets 1951-1977 (2006), which won the Georgia Author of the Year Award, and David Bas: Critical essays and interviews (2010).

Walsh has taught at Georgia Perimeter College and LaGrange College. Since 2016, he has been an assistant professor of English at Reinhardt University and director of the BFA and MFA writing programs for the Etowah Valley Writers Institute. He is also editor-in-chief of James Dickey review. In 2019, Walsh received the Reinhardt University Faculty Art Award.

He lives in Atlanta with his wife and three children.

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