Poet Brendan Walsh is coming to E. Shaver Booksellers this weekend.
Growing up in Connecticut, Walsh now lives and teaches in Hollywood, Florida. He also lived in South Korea and Laos, where he taught and wrote poetry the entire time.
Poetry began for Walsh at an early age.
“Well there's a specific moment from childhood,” Walsh recalled. “My second-grade teacher, Mrs. Linn, asked my class to write a poem about spring. I wanted so bad to display the gorgeous felt-experience of being alive, and I obsessed over each line. Of course, I had the vocabulary of a second-grader, so it may not have been all that I wanted it to be, but that was my first poem. Ever since then, I've returned to poetry every day to make sense of the world and my place within it."
Walsh went on to earn a masters degree in poetry at Southern CT State University. He said he took his obsession with writing to its logical extreme.
The Great American Poetry Crawl began 18 months ago to connect literary communities on a sprawling summer journey.
"Every city is an incubator for great literature, whether it be enjoyed on the local or national level, and I wanted to inhabit those cities and those literary communities, if only for a short moment," said Walsh.
The tour is about the connection with other writers and highlighting local work and the living literature within each city.
"I am really excited about reading with local poets Tony Morris and Melanie Goldey at E. Shaver Booksellers," said Walsh. “But I'm also looking forward to simply being in the city. Savannah has been on my list for years. I’ve always driven past it on I-95, but never stopped and I'm going to check out the Flannery O'Connor Childhood Home. I’ve been a huge fan of her work for years and hopefully eat some amazing food."
Walsh said he loves how poetry demands economy and urgency of language.
"It provides so much with what is seemingly so little, and in doing so enables us to connect quickly and honestly. I also love that poetry is meant to be shared and screamed and indulged in,” he said. “Poetry has a somewhat solitary composition process, but I believe it's ultimately a public art form. Good poetry is experience condensed and perception expanded."
The tour goes through the month of July starting in Jacksonville, stopping in Savannah, and going up the east coast through Wilmington, North Carolina, Richmond, Virginia, Baltimore, Maryland, New Haven, Connecticut, and finishing in Charleston, South Carolina.
"In each city, I'm being hosted by independent bookshops, art galleries, and libraries, to read alongside local authors," said Walsh. "Additionally, I'll record interviews with these local authors and poets for a web series produced in conjunction with the tour. I am hoping to create an interesting collection of videos that encapsulate the literary scene and vibe of each city."
Walsh said he chose Savannah because of the allure of the city.
"I think, like many people, I am happy to romanticize places that seem truly unique, which can be difficult to find in a society that often produces homogenized cityscapes and cultures," said Walsh. "I've driven past Savannah longingly many times, and I feel like now I'll be able to experience it. Also, it's hard to argue with Savannah's literary history and contemporary literary scene — something about it encourages great poetry.
“I learned to walk the Earth as a visitor, as a consummate foreigner, because that's the only way to see the world anew every day.”