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Evanescence: Selected Poems

by Wally Swist

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In what can be described as a watershed collection of poetry, Evanescence: Selected Poems assembles nearly 250 poems by Wally Swist.  Largely nature poems and poems regarding spirituality, this work spans some thirty-five years of writing and publishing.  However, there are also poems contained here regarding the joys of cuisine; the power of childhood memories; and to quote Robert Frost, as Swist does in prefacing his own poem, “A Wild Beauty,” his political poems can be seen as “momentary stays against the confusion of the world.”  What this collection thematically offers is a breadth and heft of work through which we may comprehend anyone’s life, and despite its full measure and cadence, we realize that the present moment is really all we ever can experience, and in experiencing our lives this way we become aware of how truly brief our lives are, yet how stunning and beautifully interconnected they are and how intrinsically and innately precious—as Swist writes in one of his poems regarding the endangered monarch butterfly, “A Way of Seeing:” that is “a reminder of the morning, a brightness and / fulfillment vanishing; / endangered and soon extinct, as / when we look and see, there in the empty air.“

POETRY / General

ISBN: 978-1-951651-14-5 (print; softcover; perfect bound)
ISBN: 978-1-951651-20-6 (print; hardcover; dust jacket)

LCCN: 2020934930

Released 2020

432 pages

Author Biography

Wally Swist is the author of some three dozen books and chapbooks of poetry and prose. His book The Daodejing: A New Interpretation, was written with co-authors David Breeden and Steven Schroeder (Beaumont, TX: Lamar University Press, 2015). His book Huang Po and the Dimensions of Love was selected co-winner of the 2011 Crab Orchard Series Open Poetry Contest, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Yusef Komunyakaa served as judge, and the book was published by Southern Illinois University Press in 2012. The book was nominated by Southern Illinois University Press for a National Book Award. Swist has also published three previous books of poetry with Shanti Arts, of Brunswick, Maine: Candling the Eggs (2016); The Map of Eternity (2018); and The Bees of the Invisible (2019). His books of nonfiction include Singing for Nothing: Selected Nonfiction as Literary Memoir (Brooklyn, NY: The Operating System, 2018) and On Beauty: Essays, Reviews, Fiction, and Plays (New York & Lisbon: Adelaide Books, 2018). Swist’s work has appeared in such national periodicals such as Commonweal, The North American Review, Rattle, Rolling Stone, Yankee Magazine, and Your Impossible Voice.

Swist is a recipient of Artist’s Fellowships in poetry from the Connecticut Commission on the Arts (1977 and 2003). He was also awarded a one-year writing residency (1998) and two back-to-back one-year writing residencies (2003–2005) at his former mentor’s home, Fort Juniper, the Robert Francis Homestead, in the Cushman Village section of Amherst, Massachusetts. He currently makes his home in western Massachusetts, where he is semi-retired and works as a freelance editor and writer.



“Wally Swist evokes moments that surge up from the depths of memory, and live again and again. Sometime the moment is animated by a friend, an admired poet, a lover, or his lost mother; sometimes it is brought to life by creatures he always knows well enough to name: porcupine, chipmunk, an exodus of woodland frogs, the flight of a monarch butterflies or a red-tailed hawk, a forest of white pine. What should a poet do with such contradictory moments that blend evanescence and immortality, clouds and light, mourning and celebration? Just what Wally Swist does so well: turn them into a poem!”
—Emily Grosholz, author of The Stars of Earth

“These poems are a beautifully perceptive reading of both the natural world and ourselves as its necessary testament and witness. If ‘seeing is believing,’ then Wally Swist can make believers of us all.”
— Robert Creeley

Articles and Reviews

Amazon Reviews!

Steve Pfarrer, “Poetry and prose: Wally Swist’s meditations, and a new murder mystery,” Amherst Bulletin, July 9, 2020


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