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B'ville: A poet amongst us

Martin Walls of Baldwinsville was recently selected as a judge for the prestigious 2007 Scholastic Writing Awards, a national awards program administered by the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers.

Alumni of the awards include some of America's most celebrated artists and writers, such as Truman Capote, Sylvia Plath, Robert Redford and Andy Warhol. The ceremony celebrates the creative efforts of students in seventh through 12th grades offering recognition, scholarships, exhibitions and publication.

British-born Walls is a Witter Bynner Poetry Fellow of the Library of Congress, whose other poetry awards include The Nation/"Discovery" Prize and a Breadloaf Writers' Conference scholarship.

The Baldwinsville Messenger recently interviewed Walls to learn more about the talented British-born poet.

You were born in Britain - How did you come to move to Baldwinsville?

I was born in the seaside-city of Brighton and Hove, and I lived in England until I was 23 years old. Then I set out for America to pursue a Master's degree at Purdue University in Indiana. There I met my wife, Christine Braunberger. After she graduated, she got a job in the English Department at Onondaga Community College, and that's how we moved to this area. We moved as a family to B'ville (now with a four-year-old son, Alex) last year, having lived in Solvay since 1999. We like B'ville very much--as a poet, I have to say that I'm very impressed with the library, although I've only really checked out the kids section, on account of my son. One day I'll sneak in on my own.

As a youth, were you interested in writing? How did your writing develop over the years?

Until I was about 16, I had lots of different interests. My favorite subjects in school were geography and chemistry, not really English. (To this day my poems have a scientific theme--I write a lot about bugs, for instance, and I am probably a frustrated entomologist.) However, at English schools, you had to drop a lot of subjects at 16 in order to take college-entrance exams, and I gravitated toward English as my core subject. Luckily, I had an excellent English teacher who taught us Keats, Wordsworth and Coleridge. After reading those poets, I was pretty much hooked and started writing myself. Partly what attracted me, coming from an interest in science, was the close observation these poets used in their poems--to some extent, they were poet-naturalists themselves.

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