William Walsh first stepped onto the Reinhardt University campus eight years ago to help assist with the Master of Fine Arts (MFA) program. Prior, he studied psychology and worked as a private investigator, solving more than mysteries of the human heart – murders, robberies, and tracking down bad guys like a bloodhound. But after becoming engulfed in the University’s warm culture, friendly staff, and determined students, he decided to switch careers and become a teacher at the institution.
Since then, Walsh has successfully juggled the duties of being a professor while also publishing numerous books. Just recently on January 4, 2022, he published his book Why I Wrote This Poem which features a collection of poems from 62 poets from around the world. “One day a student asked me if I could write a poem and create a breakdown of how I did it. I thought that’d be interesting if poets explained how their poems came about. I just had this idea for about 10-15 years, and after eventually writing an article for a magazine with a similar breakdown, I wanted to expand it into a physical book.”
Walsh had around 200 poem submissions to select from. He spent a tremendous amount of work not only finding the writers who wanted to be in the book, but also guiding them and revising their work. “It took 3 years to make this book because it just takes time. Everyone is busy with life. It’s easier to move one person 50 feet, than 50 people one foot!” says Walsh.
Some of the poets he personally reached out to after being fans of their work were award winning Irish poet, Annemarie Ní Churreáin, and American poet, Richard Blanco who read at Barack Obama’s second inauguration. Other poets were recommended to him or were completely new discoveries. “There’s no theme or diction in the book. The poets could choose anything that resonated with them most. Marilyn Nelson has one of my favorites about the Tulsa Riots called ‘The Tulsa Convention.’ There’s just so many different topics, which I like because it makes it so diverse.”
Several Reinhardt University students were interns and learned to be professional editors by working with Walsh on this book. “I will not allow just anybody. The students were very professional. I chose Nikki Bowen who’s a senior now, Beth Day who just graduated, and Angela Drury who was in our MFA program, because they’re fantastic students. They had good editorial skills, good time management skills and were diligent.”
If you’d like to learn more about the book and how it came about, Walsh will be speaking at the Cherokee History Center on Tuesday, February 21st at 7:00 pm.
Why I Wrote This Poem is now available for purchase at Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/why-i-wrote-this-poem-william-walsh/1141316766