This is my basic page. Come back later to see the final version.
Although you can buy my book The Newk Phillips Papers at the campus bookstore. My poetry books The Sweetest Song and Cobwebs and Chimeras are also available.
A Short Bio
Gary Walton was born in Covington, Kentucky but grew up in Fort Thomas, Kentucky. He received his B.A. from Northern Kentucky University. He studied writing and publishing at the University of South Dakota then moved to Washington D.C., receiving a Masters of Philosphy degree in American Literature in 1985 from the George Washington University and a Ph.D. in American Literature and International Modernism in 1991. His dissertation was a post-structuralist comparative study of James Joyce's Ulysses and the fiction of Donald Barthelme.
He has published widely, including stories, poems, non-fiction and letters in such diverse publications as The Washington Post, The Baltimore Sun, Black Mountain II Review, The Cincinnati Poetry Review, The Wooster Review, The Arkansas Quarterly, Black Buzzard Review, Slipstream, Pacific Coast Journal, Paper Bag, Kentucky Philological Review, Journal of Kentucky Studies, California State Poetry Quarterly, Incliner, Dream Weaver, et. al.
In 1994 and 1995, Walton was nominated for the Pushcart Prize. His first chapbook of poetry is called The Sweetest Song (Peapod Press, 1988). His second, called Cobwebs and Chimeras, was published by Red Dancefloor Press in the spring of 1995. The Newk Phillips Papers, his first book of collected short fiction, was published in the winter of 1995. Effervescent Softsell (1997) is his latest collection of poetry -- also published by Red Dancefloor Press. He has a novel in-progress called Sin City about Newport Kentucky in its heyday as a gambling Mecca. It is a comic melodrama in four acts.
Walton has taught writing and literature at The George Washington University, The University of South Dakota, and The University of Cincinnati. Currently, he is a Full-time Lecturer in the Literature and Language Department of Northern Kentucky University where he continues to write poetry, fiction, plays, and essays as well as teach writing and literature.
BOOKS BY G.P. WALTON
The Newk Phillips Papers (ISBN 1-881-168-17-4) is a humorous tour de force, combinin high art and low comedy in one hilarious pastiche of stories, poems (and a play) whose styles range from satire to bawdy slapstick. The ostensible author, Newk Phillips, is a "punk" qua "new wave" poet originally from Rabbit Hash Kentucky , who is proud of his iconoclasm and wry criticism of contemporary life.
Newk's Papers includes his rather infamous "Newk and Elvis" -- a series of "conversations" with the late singer compiled over the years since the singer's untimely demise. (The King faked his own death it seems.) Newk's Elvis is a kind of Renaissance man who dabbles in everything from high mathematics to aesthetics. Other notables who populate Newk's world include Marilyn Monroe, Jack Kerouac, Franz Kafka, Walt Whitman, the three little pigs, a surly Djinn, an irked Zen master, not to mention a quirky time machine and that den of sin known as "Newport Kentucky" -- the gambler's heaven. $14.95 (224 pages, perfect bound) Available through Red Dancefloor Press: P.O. Box 4974, Lancaster, CA 93539-4974 or Contact David Goldschlag Publisher at firstname.lastname@example.org
About Newk and his "Papers"
"Newk, a resident of Rabbit Hash, meets The King in places such as Churchill Downs, Butte. Mont., and San Francisco's Golden Gate park to talk about the likes of the cultural groundings of Tae Kwon Do and Pricilla Presley's tasteless purchase of an imitation tiger skin rug....It's all pretty creative nonsense -- and a lot of laughs...." (Jack Hicks, The Kentucky Post)
"Glad you're keeping tabs on the sainted Elvis. How erudite he's got! Thanks for the rich crop of laughs." (X.J. Kennedy, Poet and former Poetry Editor of the Paris Review)
"The author is a true storyteller, spinning yarns rather than writing fiction. No matter how fantastic the story may get, the conversatonal tone and pop culture references draw you in and make it almost plausible. In fact, the reader will desperately want the stories to be true. After reading [The Newk Phillips Papers] I have to admit that I secretly wished that I, like Newk Phillips, was hanging out with Elvis." (Shelly DeLor, "Elvis Lives" Everybody's News)
Effervescent Softsell (ISBN 1-881168-47-6) is Walton's third book of poetry. If there is such a thing as "post" Modern poet, Gary Walton isone. His poems are constructed objects filled with play and verbal pastiche. Yet, his concern for the image itself, as the engine of meaning, continues the tradition of Whitman and the Modernist poets. This collection features poems whose subjects explore the possibility of love in an age which is rushing headlong into the crash of the Millenium, where individual identity sometimes gets lost in the swirl of technology and the irony of modern life. $5.00 (52 pages, staple bound) -- Available through Red Dancefloor Press.
About Effervescent Softsell
"Walton's...words, [are] glazed in a certain world-weariness that captured my attention on a recent gray afternoon....[They are] touching and powerful....In fact, Walton a little on the grim side is the cup of tea I would invariably select.(Carole L. Philipps, "Poems' World-weariness Appeals," The Cincinnati Post)
"Much thanks for...the look at ...Effervescent Softsell, which I relished. "An Autumn Reverie" hits me as [a] particularly fine, well-sustained poem, with a pay-off at the end." (X.J. Kennedy)
Gary Walton [is] an outstanding poet....That's what a poet can do that most of us miss. They have an experience and most of us have had the same experience, but they know how to tell us about it -- Gary Walton certainly [does]." (Oscar Treadwell "Jazz with O.T.," WVXU X-Star Network, Cincinnati and KIPO Hawaii)
"The lines of his poetry can also evoke a smile, as well as some wonderment....Along with the humor, there's a certain sadness...." (Jack Hicks, "History With a Funny Wrinkle," The Kentucky Post)
"[Walton's] poems range from short panegyrics...to heady experiments in modern culture to discussions of philosphy on the philosophers' own terms...." (John S.F. Graham, Pacific Coast Journal)
Cobwebs And Chimeras (ISBN 1-881168-24-7) is Walton's second book of poetry. The subjects of this collection range from the pathos of love to the horror of toxic waste dumps, describing human moments caught in the middle of an utterly ironic, totally inscrutable cosmos. This collection was a "March Pick" (1997) by The Small Press Review. $5.00 (44 pages, staple bound) -- Available through Red Dancefloor Press.
About Cobwebs and Chimeras
"Gary Walton writes seriously and playfully about the world we know: buzzsaws, environmental pollutions, cable TV; with his ironic flair, Walton skewers chimeras and brushes away cobwebs in the unvisited reaches of our cluttered cultural attic/psyche:
It's like magic, this poetry,
and sacred too,
like pork and beans
or motor oil." (Phil Paradis, poet)
"I'm helpless to tell why I like [his poems] so much, but then success in poetry is always mysterious." (X.J. Kennedy)
The Sweetest Song is Walton's first book of poems. The collection contains many highly experimental poems as well as favorites of many fans who attend his readings. $5.00 (44 pages, staple bound) -- Available through Red Dancefloor Press.
- "Poems' World-Weariness Appeals"
- "History -- With Funny Wrinkle"
- "RFK In Newport: Truth or Tall Tale?"
Poems' World-Weariness Appeals
Carole L. Philipps
The Cincinnati Post
Covington native and Northern Kentucky University lecturer G.P. (Gary) Walton has published his third book of poetry, "Effervescent Softsell" (Red Dancefloor Press, $5, softcover).
Walton, whose doctoral dissertation was a "post-structural comparative study of James Joyce's 'Ulysses' and the fiction of Donald Barthelme," writes of his own experiences, often with a wry touch.
But Walton's humor is not what I would choose to praise in this collection. Rather, it is his words, glazed in a certain world-weariness that captured my attention on a recent gray afternoon.
Touching and Powerful is "Custer on the Lam in the 20th Century," a seven-part dissection, with historic overtones, of a family torn asunder.
"Tanka for Autumn" has the weight of profundity in its very simplicity: "Coins fall from the tree,/Golden denominations:/Spring's compound interest; A man with a rake thinks'How/Much is left in my account?'"
And "Curtain Call," with its autumn images of age and decline, displays a certain gritty determination that is uplifting in a no-stars-in-the-eyes way.
In fact, Walton a little on the grim side is the cup of tea I would invariably select.
(April 11, 1998)
Copyright 1998,The Cincinnati Post. Posted with permission on Gary Walton's web site at Northern Kentucky University, http://www.nku.edu/~waltong/. This article may not be published, reposted, or distributed without permission from The Cincinnati Post.
History -- With Funny Wrinkle
The Kentucky Post
A reviewer has described Gary P. Walton as a poet with a fine sense of humor.
The Covington native and Ft. Thomas resident also has a fine -- but far out -- sense of history.
Whether it's Newport's vice days or Elvis Presley, Walton draws on the past, richly mixed with imagination.
Consider "One November Afternoon in Newport," a piece he penned for "Happy," a literary magazine.
The scene is the Tropicana Night Club in the Glen Rendezvous Hotel. The hotel existed, but the story is fictitious.
In the [story], a group of hoods with names like Vito Garibaldi are grousing over lunch about U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy's crackdown on organized crime. One tells of a youthful Bobby Kennedy making a fool of himself and running up a huge gambling debt at the Beverly Hills Supper Club. The day, readers learn as the story unfolds, is Nov. 22, 1963, the date President John Kennedy was assassinated.
Another Walton creation is Newk Phillips, who writes in the first person about his friendship with Elvis Presley.
Elvis faked his death back in 1977, and has gone off to extrapolate Nietzche's idea of eternal recurrence into Bergson's aesthetic in which time is captured, or recaptured, by the meticulous production of art.
So as not to be recognized, Elvis has shaved his head. He is spotted by TV reporter Diane Sawyer, but after he saves her life by performing the Heimlich maneuver, she agrees not to blow his cover.
Newk, a resident of Rabbit Hash, meets The King in places such as Churchill Downs, Butte. Mont., and San Francisco's Golden Gate Park to talk about the likes of the cultural groundings of Tae Kwon Do and Pricilla Presley's tasteless purchase of an imitation tiger skin rug.
It's all pretty creative nonsense -- and a lot of laughs if the reader's sense of humor is on the same wavelength as Walton's.
"The way I come at poetry is you've to to have fun with it," Walton remarked.
Walton, 43, has a serious side, and it includes admiration for students at Northern Kentucky University, where he lectures and has an office in the Department of Literature and Language. Most Northern students have one or more jobs, and some have families in addition, he points out.
"I don't see how they do it."
Walton knows something of hard work himself. He usually has four courses per semester, and at the end of each term finds himself reviewing and passing judgment on 300 to 500 papers.
It limits his time for writing. And it has been a long time since he has played a professional music gig.
Walton toured and played guitar with groups, including The Diamonds, who back in the '50's were known for such hits as "Little Darlin'."
Tired of living out of a suitcase, Walton returned to school, eventually earning a doctorate at George Washington University.
While in school in Washington, Walton became a civic activist, protesting a jail that D.C. Mayor Marion Berry wanted built in his neighborhood.
Though not a standup comic, Walton can get a chuckle telling of dealing with the underhanded Berry.
The lines of his poetry can also evoke a smile, as well as some wonderment, trying to understand the message of such lines as:It's like magic, this poetry and sacred too, like pork and beans or motor oil."
Along with humor, there's a certain sadness. In a book of poetry, "Cobwebs and Chimeras," Walton theorizes on Walt Whitman's reaction to modern day pollution.
"Imagine Walt watching the sun set through chlorofluorocarbons and monoxide, the air burning his skin and eyes, his lungs laboring in the heat."
Whitman, writes Walton, "smiles painfully."
So might Walton's reader.
(Jack Hicks is a columnist and political writer for The Kentucky Post.)
(November 6, 1995)
Copyright 1995, The Kentucky Post. Posted with permission on Gary Walton's Web site at Northern Kentucky University. This article may not be published, reposted, or distributed without permission from The Kentucky Post.
RFK In Newport: Truth or Tall Tale?
The Kentucky Post
So how did vice in little ol' Newport attract the attention years ago of the late Robert F. Kennedy, attorney general when his brother John F. Kennedy was president?
In cracking down on gambling establishments in and around Newport, was Bobby Kennedy retaliating for being rebuffed by casino operators when he came here as a younger man and made a fool of himself?
The answer depends on whom you believe.
Gary P. Walton, a Northern Kentucky University faculty member, wrote what he contends was a fictitious story for a literary magazine called "Happy." In the story, "One November Afternoon in Newport," some hoods are having lunch in the Tropicana Night Club of the Glen Rendezvous Hotel.
The men are complaining about Kennedy's crackdown on organized crime, and one tells a tale about Kennedy visiting the area some years earlier, before he and his brother were household names.
As the story went, the younger Kennedy was a patron at the Beverly Hills Supper Club in Southgate, where he drank too much and took a turn at the illegal gaming tables. He lost heavily and then tried to throw his weight around, via the family name, to obtain credit for more gambling.
The management refused, and Kennedy left in a huff, promising that Beverly Hills and other establishments would pay when his brother became president.
As Walton's story unfolded, the reader learned that the November day was Nov. 22, 1963, the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated. The inference was that organized crime got back at the Kennedys by having the president killed.
The yarn was included in a column about the rather colorful Walton, as an example of his creative ability.
Then came a letter from Marcia Wehrman of Covington. She claimed that her late father-in-law, Charles "Bud" Wehrman, was involved in the operation of Beverly Hills. She said she spent many hours in Wehrman's room at the former Booth Hospital in Covinton, listening as the terminally ill man told stories about the area's wide-open days.
She said one story was about a young man calling himself Bobby Kennedy who lost heavily at the tables and demanded a $5,000 marker to continue to play. When it was refused, the gambler said his brother would be the next president, and he would shut down Newport.
Of course Beverly Hills was in Southgate, not Newport. But it is true that as counsel for the Kefauver Crime Commission, and as U.S. attorney general, Robert Kennedy was a thorn in the side of those who operated the area's nightlife.
Was it in the name of justice or retribution?
Walton said Kennedy's alleged trouble at Beverly Hills was "a bar story" he heard several times over the years in which sometimes the central character wasn't Kennedy but actor Peter Lawford, the Kennedys' brother-in-law.
Hank Messick, the former newspaperman who penned best-selling books about the Newport vice days, doubts the story about Kennedy. He never heard it before, Messick said, and it there were any truth to it, Charles Lester, the attorney for many of the Newport figures, would have made the most of it ridiculing the Kennedys.
Several others involved in that era said they never heard the story told, either as fact or rumor. "I never heard it, but I wish it would have happened," remarked Pat Ciafardini, a former Newport police chief of detectives. He admired John Kennedy, but admits he didn't think much of Bobby.
Another retired Newport police officer, Roy Hoffman, said he hadn't heard the Kennedy gambling story, but he does recall a rumor about Bobby trying to date some of the Beverly Hills showgirls.
Hoffman has no proof such a thing happened, but Walton's ears perked up at the recounting. Who knows...could a Kennedy romance with a Newport showgirl be further grist for the writer's mill?
Jack Hicks is a columnist and political writer for The Kentucky Post.
(December 29, 1995)
Copyright 1995,The Kentucky Post. Posted with permission on the Web site of Gary Walton at Northern Kentucky University. This article may not be published, reposted, or distributed without permission from The Kentucky Post.
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