Singing for Nothing: Selected Nonfiction as Literary Memoir

Wally Swist (Author)

Product Details

Operating System
Publish Date
September 01, 2018
5.5 X 0.82 X 8.5 inches | 1.02 pounds
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About the Author

Wally Swist is the author of some three dozen books and chapbooks of poetry and prose. Among his books are The Daodejing: A New Interpretation, 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 Brusnwick, 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 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. 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. He currently makes his home in western Massachusetts, where he is semi-retired and works as a freelance editor and writer.


"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 (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 Hanson Mitchell

"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 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. " - Jane Brox