Humans of Northwest

John Gallaher is often found in the office of “The Laurel Review.”

John Gallaher can usually be found down in the Green Tower Press office, surrounded by a sprawling mess of old copies of the “Laurel Review,” copies of his poetry book “In a Landscape” and his collage work.

John Gallaher recently published his fourth book of poems, “In a Landscape,” which he called more of a memoir piece and featured different aspects about Maryville. He prefers to write in a way that doesn’t put distance between him as a poet and him as the narrator.

John Gallaher discovered his love of words in a high school AP English class.

“I always enjoyed my creative writing class,” John Gallaher said.  

John Gallaher originally went to Texas State University to study journalism, specifically broadcast journalism.

“In the 1980s, we had a different view on picking majors than we do now,” John Gallaher said. “I don’t know if it’s the same, but back then, it was you went to college, took some classes and then you picked your major.”

John Gallaher chose journalism for one reason: his love of writing.

“In college, I really liked my philosophy courses, my history courses, but in the end, I chose journalism because I loved to write.”

Much like other aspects of his life, John Gallaher wanted to bring humor to television.

“You know, I really like those warm and fuzzies that come on after the news about a funny event or about a person. I wanted to do that,” John Gallaher said. “I wanted to do funny and cultural commentary. I didn’t want to do political commentary, but I suppose cultural commentary could be political.”

However, when looking at graduate schools, John Gallaher found a creative writing program.

“I was like ‘Well, I really liked my creative writing class, so yeah I’ll jump into that.’ Since it was a new program, the only requirement was you have a heartbeat,” John Gallaher said.

It was from there his love of poetry seemed to blossom. He is influenced by poets such as E.E. Cummings, Wallace Stevens and John Ashbery. He appreciates the more prose and lyrical style, which reflects his outgoing personality.

His wife, Robin Gallaher, is also a professor at Northwest. However, her writing style is different than her husband’s.

“I’m fascinated by it,” his wife, Robin Gallaher said. “It’s something I can’t do. I’m always intrigued by where he’s going next.”

John Gallaher is also a collage artist. He cuts out pictures from magazines to create a new work of art.

“Lately, he’s been working on these collages, which is not writing or it is depending how you look at it,” Robin Gallaher said.

Much like a collage, John Gallaher’s identity is more than poet and collage artist. He is also a husband and a father.

He met Robin Gallaher while in college.

“We met at Texas State University….we were both students,” Robin Gallaher said. “Well, I say students; he was a grad student, and I was an undergrad. We had a class together. It was one of those level 500 classes, so it was a mix of both.”

John and Robin have been together since the late 1990s.

“We’ve been together a long time,” Robin Gallaher said. “Of course, there are people who have been together longer, but we got married back in 1999. So there are lots and lots of great memories. I don’t really have a favorite memory with John. It’s more about a collection of memories.”

These focus in on John’s role as a son-in-law and father.

“Of course, there is our wedding day, which is really important,” Robin Gallaher said. “I also think about the times he’s with my family. Seeing him interact with my mom and having fun with her silly conversations they’ve had. He’s a great dad, so whatever role he has with the kids, like making them breakfast the way they want or dealing with a bigger issue is what I think about.”

John Gallaher also advises the Green Tower Press, which produces “The Laurel Review” twice a calendar year, with his friend and colleague Luke Rolfes.

“I met John about nine years ago,” Rolfes said. “I was a new faculty member and pretty scared since I was young and it was my first job. I was debating on bringing my family to the new faculty picnic, and he said, ‘I’m bringing my wife,’ but of course, his wife works here. It just made me feel a little more at ease.”

John Gallaher brought Rolfes on to the Green Tower Press.

“He’s more of the veteran, and I’m still kind of the rookie,” Rolfes said.

The writing world is often full of rejection, and since Northwest students also write for “The Laurel Review,” the two have their own way of helping students through revision and rewriting.

“I usually walk people through the process,” Rolfes said. “John usually cracks a joke to make it better.”

“You know the saying ‘good cop, bad cop?’ With us it’s more good cop, weird cop,” John Gallaher said. “I’m the weird cop.”

In the grand scheme of  his career, John Gallaher has left an impact at the Green Tower Press, along with the lives of those who read his books and attend his class.

“‘Have you had a good life?’ Good question,” John Gallaher wrote in “In a Landscape.” “In the grand scheme of things, we're all fairly equal. We just travel in varying degrees of comfort. There is a rhythm to life, they say, much like the seasons.”

Much like his poetry and collage work, John Gallaher is full of many different layers, which only takes a different perspective to see the next layer.

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