George Wallace is Writer in Residence at the Walt Whitman Birthplace (2011-present), first poet laureate of Suffolk County NY, former laureate of the International Beat Poetry Festival and author of 38 chapbooks of poetry. An adjunct professor with the English Department at Pace University in Manhattan and at Westchester Community College, Wallace is editor of Poetrybay, Poetryvlog, Walt’s Corner, and co-editor of Great Weather For Media and Long Island Quarterly.
He has taught writing workshops widely in the US and in Europe, including west coast weekend retreats at Paso Robles and Willow Creek; workshops in Oklahoma, North Carolina, Florida, and the New York metropolitan area; Cornwall, Cumbria, East Anglia and at Maddy Prior’s Stone Barn in Bewcastle; and at a week long workshop on the island of Skiathos, Greece.
Wallace has performed at the Ledbury Festival, Woody Guthrie Festival, Lowell Celebrates Kerouac, and Lyric Recovery at Carnegie Hall. He has collaborated with French Playwrights at the Avignon Festival, and appeared on stage with numerous figures in popular music. As visiting writer at Harvard’s Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington, he recently researched major themes in classic literature and their application to contemporary poetics.
His lecture and reading schedule has brought him to many UK and US locations, including: the Dylan Thomas Centre, Robert Burns Centre, Brantwood and Swarthmoor Hall, the Pollock-Krasner House, Gordon Parks Museum, Detroit Labor Conference, Mabel Dodge Luhan House, John Steinbeck Center, and the William Carlos Williams Library. He has appeared widely in Southern Europe, and is recipient of such international awards as the Naim Fresheri Prize (Mac), Corona d’Oro (Alb), Orpheus Prize (Bul), Centro Studii Archivio d’Occidente Award (It), and Alexander Medal (UNESCO-Gr).
A graduate of Syracuse University where he studied poetry with WD Snodgrass and Donald Justice, Wallace obtained his MFA in 2008 at Pacific University, Oregon, working with Marvin Bell, David St John, Joe Millar, Ellen Bass and Dorianne Laux.
His publications include Resistance is a Blue Guitar (Blue Light Press), Simple Blues With A Few Intangibles (Foothills Publications), Belt Buckles And Bibles (NightBallet Press), Incident on the Orient Express (Nirala Press), Poppin’ Johnny (Three Rooms Press), Burn My Heart in Wet Sand (Leicester), Sulfer of Troy and Swimming Through Water (La Finestra Editrice).
As Writer In Residence at the Walt Whitman Birthplace, Wallace has broadened the base of his poetry from his roots in French Surrealism and Beat-era bop prosody to explore the visionary and ecstatic tradition of 19th century American Transcendentalism, as well as the Romantic-era celebration of the voice of the “common man.”
An avid Whitman enthusiast, he is a major interpreter of Long Island literature and local history, as well as European Surrealism, New York School and Beat writing; and has dialogued with many of the major figures in 20th century poetry and the popular arts, including most of the poets in residence at the Whitman Birthplace.
As Writer in Residence, Wallace founded the Walking With Whitman: Poetry in Performance, which has grown to become WWBA’s Signature Poetry Performance Series. The series features performances and presentations by the most intriguing figures in contemporary literature and the arts on the national scene, paired with respected voices on the regional scene.
Wallace, who serves as host and MC, is quintessential in recruiting a diverse roster of performers to create a dynamic program. In year four, Wallace brought music into the proceedings. Now in its fifth season, Wallace continues to build on the already successful program by adding an open mic portion to the proceedings, so that regional poets may share their voice with the audience.
“We’ve hosted international performers from England, Africa, Scotland and Greece; nationally known figures in poetry from the four corners of America; and regional poets from the tri-state area to Long Island’s own backyards,” Wallace says. “Styles have varied widely, but through the entire series, what has remained consistent is the display of exceptionally high quality of wordcraft, and enthusiastic devotion to audience engagement.”