As a child, Adam Fitzgerald didn't consider himself to be any kind of writer.
The 2001 graduate of South Brunswick High School grew up in the township surrounded by his father's extensive collection of literature, but writing to him was more of a task one does out of necessity at the time.
"I didn't really consider myself a reader when I was a child. I was more interested in cinema," Fitzgerald said. "I was exposed to the same things most other kids are exposed to growing up in the 1980's. For awhile I thought of myself as more of an actor. I started writing when I was young, but I didn't think anything of it. I thought of it as more of an intimate, immediate thing you do because you had to."
Flash forward a couple of decades and Fitzgerald finds himself on the cusp of his literary debut, with a collection of poetry due out in June, 2013 from major publisher W.W. Norton’s Liveright. But it wasn't until his senior year at SBHS that Fitzgerald discovered his true calling.
"When I got to South Brunswick High School I got more serious about writing," he said. "I took some classes and wrote some bad teen angst poems. Then through a fluke I signed up for a class where you would leave school for one day a week to go and study in a program for the arts that Middlesex County set up. I auditioned for it and got it. So for one day a week, I was bused to this regional community center with dancers, musicians, fiction writers and poets during my senior year."
Being immersed in study with like minded compatriots, Fitzgerald said he found himself inspired and driven to read everything he could in order to gain even footing with his new classmates.
"It was exhilarating. I was completely under-read compared to everyone else, but I took to that experience and I felt very comfortable there," he said. "When I got to college, I was a huge fan of the freedom that came with it and I spent a lot of time reading. That was when a lot of clarity for what I wanted to do took place and it stayed with me ever sense."
Fitzgerald eventually settled in New York City's East Village and went on to become an editor and adjunct professor in literature and creative writing at Rutgers University and The New School. He is founding editor of the poetry journal Maggy, and the small artisan press Monk Books. In 2007, he completed a Masters at Boston University’s Editorial Institute, and in 2010 he received an MFA from Columbia University’s School of the Arts in Poetry. His recent poems have appeared in A Public Space, Boston Review, Conjunctions, and The Brooklyn Rail, among other publications.
Fitzgerald's debut collection of poetry, The Late Parade, just so happens to be published by the same company that published one of his idols, Liveright Publishing.
"One of the poets I discovered as an undergrad was Hart Crane, who was this incomparable prodigy in American English literature," Fitzgerald said. "He started writing around the age of 16, moved to New York City in his early twenties, and taught himself everything he knew. He was clearly brilliant and emotionally unstable. Crane wrote in this egomaniacal, lyrically high style.
"Why does one react a certan way to a certain thing? I don't know, but when I read Crane's work it just really all made sense to me."
For Fitzgerald, getting a book published under the Liveright name holds a special significance in terms of those who came before that led him to becoming a poet.
"As you can imagine, it's extremely uncanny to me and it felt especially surreal in an unbelievable way," he said. "It's like getting asked to be part of this secret hall of fame you always aspired to without knowing it. My book will be coming out in June and I'm very excited about it."
But this weekend, the path that led Fitzgerald away from South Brunswick will be leading him back to the place he started. He will join poet Timothy Donnelly, a 2012 Guggenheim Fellow and poetry editor of The Boston Review, at the monthly South Brunswick Poetry Series on Sunday.
"It's not something I think I would've planned or anticipated. I wanted to be able to publish a book, but so much of my life has been built on going forward that you forget about the opportunities to go back to the places you began," Fitzgerald said. "It will definitely be wonderful to be back at the South Brunswick library. It was my first library and the one I grew up going to. It kind of has a sentimental bearing to me. Plus, I'm reading with a poet I deeply admire."
The free reading will begin at 2 p.m. Sunday at the South Brunswick Public Library, located at 110 Kingston Lane in Monmouth Junction. Attendees are asked to bring a donation of a nonperishable food item for the South Brunswick Food Pantry.
"Sometimes it's very easy to think of poetry, if you see yourself writing experimental poetry, as a big city experience that's meant to happen in the city," Fitzgerald said. "The flip side of that for me, my roots might be in the city because it's where I call home now. Where I come from is a town like South Brunswick. A somewhat well to do suburban town that feels about as different from New York City as the middle of the county. It's unique to be able to go back there and read my poems."