Working from a base of operations in downtown New York City's poetry scene, from his family roots in Brooklyn and Long Island, and from his experiences living and working in Northern California, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Oregon and the United Kingdom, Wallace has created a grassroots network of venues for poetry.
His own poetry, in particular his performance-oriented work, is imagination-based in its creation, emerging from a process of wordplay, surrealist deconstruction and bricolage into a final form that is typically characterized by accessible narrative and forceful rhythmic impetus. It is built on a foundation of a musical talent that emerged at the age of four, when he began reading and performing music, and shaped by his extensive readings in the literature of European Surrealism, the Whitman/Sandburg vortex, and the Beats. His work also bears the mark of 1960s concerns, particularly the social witness and aesthetic consciousness of that time.
His organizational efforts on behalf of poetry are based on professional training and disposition to community service developed through graduate studies with Guy Stuart and others at UNC-Chapel Hill in the mid '70s.
Early years, 1970–2000:
Wallace was born into a New York family with associations to both popular entertainment and high culture - his grandfather was a muralist for vaudeville theaters, his father a 'Kiddie Troupe' dancer; and his maternal uncle a world-traveling figure in the Fifth Avenue fashion world. In the 1960s he was part of the Long Island music scene which produced such artists as The Young Rascals, Billy Joel and the Shangri-Las.
He attended Syracuse University 1967–71, met Allen Ginsberg and studied with W. D. Snodgrass, and then began a twenty-year career exploring the US, Europe and Asia. Occasional work, pursuit of community service, and cross-cultural curiosity resulted in extended stays in Boston (1972–73), India and the Middle East (1973), the San Francisco Bay area (1974–75), Korea (US Peace Corps, 1975–77), North Carolina (1977–1980), Sacramento (1981–83), East Anglia, UK (1983–85), before returning to his native New York.
Beginning in 1988 he began a decade-long career as a community journalist and building poetry communities from a base of operations in Huntington, Long Island — creating Walt's Corner, a column in the Long Islander Newspaper (founded by Walt Whitman), Long Island Quarterly Magazine, live performance venues, and local radio and television shows. His associations with East End Long Island poetry scene, in particular Westhampton Writers luminaries Budd Schulberg, Peter Swet and Dakin Williams, were supplemented by regular interactions with poets of national and international stature (including Robert Bly, Sharon Olds, Yevgeny Yevtushenko and Diane Wakoski), who served as Poets In Residence at the Walt Whitman Birthplace.
During this time, Wallace's own poetry began to be collected in chapbook form, with publications through Cross Cultural Communications, Writers Ink Press and others, producing work that featured a growing orientation to inventive and playful monologues.
By the late 1990s Wallace was recognized as a pre-eminent figure in regional poetry, and he was named the first poet laureate for Suffolk County, Long Island, in 2003.
Wallace's engagement in the extended world of Beat and post-Beat writing emerged during this period, simultaneously with his recognition of the opportunity of the Internet for creation of platforms for poetry, and for pan-regional networking of poetry communities.
Poetrybay, which he launched in 2000, established him as a respected national publisher of poetry. The online literary magazine was selected for international archiving and distribution through the Stanford University LOCKSS program.
Meanwhile, from 1999 on, Wallace began to devote more
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