“when voices detach themselves,” by gary lundy / review, interview, poems

“Poetry is at its basic level language at play. I try not to dictate the rules of that play.” gary lundy



gary’s style is an engaging cross between the spontaneity of artistic improvisation and a steady flow of interior monologue. His often fragmented word-play, draws us inescapably into his haunted world. His is singular voice that pulls us up by the heartstrings as he scrutinizes his life, his loves, and the ragged edges of longing. He is exquisitely open in his explorations of grief and vulnerability, facing the discordant notes head on. I think what impressed me most about gary’s writing is a virtuosity unpretentious and honest.  Recommended.

when voices detach themselves is the first of two chapbooks by gary lundy published by Is a Rose Press, which focuses on “poetry, experimental writing, hybrid, and more.”  when voices detach themselves was published in 2013 and the second, heartbreak elopes into a kind of forgiving was published in 2016. These are among several of gary’s published collections. The others are detailed in his bio, which closes this post.

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*****

when voices detach themselves, when I imagine
I am listenting to their speakers sudden impact of
invisibility, of having lost the way, even through
insistence attempts to sidestep a bouncing young
noise. can it be. that through thought i confirm
my being. yet does it too proceed the thought.
can it not outlast loss.

in another location two people unwind their
bodies from the previous nights encounter, move
to opposites sides of the room.

INTERVIEW

JAMIE: I’m sure you’ve had many questions from your students, readers, and interviewers over the years. Is there any question about poetry in general and/or your poetry specifically that  you wish someone would ask and what would be your answer to that question?

GARY: In my experience people don’t tend to ask questions about poetry. Certainly many want to tell me what poetry can and can’t be. From the admonition that this or that word is overused and should be avoided, to “we have a moral obligation to protect the world from bad poetry.” This last one came after I refused to talk about those poets who didn’t inspire or compel, etc. From a well known poet who we had gathered to meet and greet, if you will.

I love poetry, even those pieces or books that don’t generate for me interest. I love language and words equally. Poetry is at its basic level language at play. I try not to dictate the rules of that play.

JAMIE: Your style is certainly engaging and rather singular, improvisational and fragmented like the voices about which you write in when voices detach themselves. Did it arrive one day in a flash or is it something that evolved and is perhaps still evolving? 

GARY: Thank you. For this particular book I returned to poems I’d written a few years earlier and then left behind. When I reintroduced myself to them i realized that in their fragmented way they fit together. So I listened and then the book was reallized.

My writing practice is pretty consistent in that I usually write every day. But I don’t begin with a sense of where the writing is going to go. That is, I have little interest in dictating where the words lead. Rather, I’ll jot something down, a fragment or phrase and then what’s on the page begins to dictate direction.

Naturally, when I first began to explore writing poetry I followed those dictates of teachers and peers. I worked to write the poem expected, the poem of rules. I also wrote specifically out of or from my life experiences. It was a good practice to be sure.

However, eventually I began to understand that such writing, for me of course, was more a group writing than writing as it came to me. My life did not seem to fit easily into the formulas I’d been encouraged to use. Perhaps because I hadn’t really begun to recognize my queer identity, but my world was not constructed within easy narrative or linear structure. Rather, it was filled with false starts, disconcerting interruptions, and a sense of loss and failure. I began to listen to that rather than any central sense of self. Naturally this is an ongoing and delightful adventure in discovering where the writing wants to go. 

JAMIE: You write about the discordant notes in life, the fears, the jolts that come out of nowhere, the losses, and the distancing that seems to happen between lovers and friends, and the way expectations and outcomes don’t necessarily jive … all the aches and pains of life, the vulnerabilities. Is there healing for you in the writing, in the naming? Is your hope – expectation – that there might be some healing for the reader?

GARY: This is an intriguing question. When I write I have little expectation past the writing as it unfolds. Certainly, when I return to what has been written, especially after a few months or years, I suppose there is some kind of healing; although, I’d prefer insight. A few years ago I moved to Providence, Rhode Island, to be with a lover and friends. It was a good experience; however, it was also not so good. After I returned to Montana I reread my first full length collection, heartbreak elopes into a kind of forgiving. I was preparing to give a reading and hadn’t really thought very much about the poems. However, as i read through the pieces, all written before my move, there were warnings throughout. I could see that however it came, evidently I knew I shouldn’t make the move. The poems were written a couple years earlier. Curious to be sure. While I try to pay attention to such meanings in my poetry, unfortunately, for the most part I miss them consistently.

I have no expectation for my reader, nor of even having a reader. I am convinced that if there is a reader they will find their own sense of what’s going on in the poem as they listen to the poem. While writing certainly and clearly assumes a reader, I don’t. I write for the pleasure of writing, and, perhaps, to keep me in some way grounded.

JAMIE: I suspect you’ve been writing since high school and college and I know you have quite a body of published work.  What’s up next? 

GARY: Well, to get some few pieces published in magazines and journals; perhaps land another book or two. But foremost is simply to continue writing, and reading, to continue learning about those facets of my compound and complex sense of self and world.

POEMS

as i have to do i bring this to a more personal
level. certainly in my writing part of the task has
been to find a form that not only expresses what
i have lived. but the stories of what i can live. feel
certain that every marginalized person has this
task. or remains subordinate and enslaved. yet
as i struggle with the how of actualizing this. or
getting to the story not in unremarkable and
familiar narrative. i realize how troubling and
difficult it is.

i apologize for loading you down with images.
just excited to get closer to present. and maybe
a future.

****

as out of remarkable past
a slight look aside peripheral desire
another over written story lies
indeed it may only be overdue bills
envelopes stacked against the south wall
last years dishes long the growing mold

****

you came to me later after other women had
taught me their possibility and mine while men
kept warning their usual mantra it is a mans
world but it isn’t after all and a reality exists
outside even their peripheral gaze even outside
their understanding a desire full of exception and
expectation for a different kind of language a
different kind of life where ego shrinks to the size
of a pea and life become quite suddenly more
about more than usual

gary’s poetry is shared here with permission

© gary lundy

RELATED:

reading the signs can be terrifying, gary lundy, Cutbank, The Literary Journal of the University of Montana


gary lundy has published five chapbooks, the two most recent, and still in print, when voices detach themselves (Is A Rose Press, 2013), and at | with (Locofo Chaps, 2017), and has two book length collections, heartbreak elopes into a kind of forgiving (Is A Rose Press, 2016); and each room echoes absence (Foothills Publishing, 2018). He has published his writing throughout the US as well as in Canada, Czeck Republic, and Israel. Most recently his poems have appeared in Fence, Meta/Phor(e)/Play, Cutbank: Weekly Flash Prose & Prose Poetry, Setu: Western Voices Special Edition, and Alexandria Quarterly.

gary was raised in Denver, Colorado. He received his Ph.D. in Twentieth Century American Poetry from Binghamton University. He taught English at SUNY-Oswego, St. Paul’s College, and for twenty years at the University of Montana Western. gary, now retired, is queer and lives in Missoula, Montana.



ABOUT 

Jamie Dedes. I’m a Lebanese-American freelance writer, poet, content editor, blogger and the mother of a world-class actor and mother-in-law of a stellar writer/photographer. No grandchildren, but my grandkitty, Dahlia, rocks big time. I am hopelessly in love with nature and all her creatures. In another lifetime, I was a columnist, a publicist, and an associate editor to a regional employment publication. I’ve had to reinvent myself to accommodate scarred lungs, pulmonary hypertension, right-sided heart failure, connective tissue disease, and a rare managed but incurable blood cancer. The gift in this is time for my primary love: literature. I study/read/write from a comfy bed where I’ve carved out a busy life writing feature articles, short stories, and poetry and managing The BeZine and its associated activities and The Poet by Day jamiededes.com, an info hub for writers meant to encourage good but lesser-known poets, women and minority poets, outsider artists, and artists just finding their voices in maturity. The Poet by Day is dedicated to supporting freedom of artistic expression and human rights.  Email thepoetbyday@gmail.com for permissions, commissions, or assignments.

Testimonials / Disclosure / Facebook

Recent and Upcoming in Digital Publications * The Damask Garden, In a Woman’s Voice, August 11, 2019 / This short story is dedicated to all refugees. That would be one in every 113 people. * Five poems, Spirit of Nature, Opa Anthology of Poetry, 2019 * From the Small Beginning, Entropy Magazine (Enclave, #Final Poems), July 2019 * Over His Morning Coffee, Front Porch Review, July 2019 * Three poems, Our Poetry Archive, September 2019


“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.”  Lucille Clifton

 

Through My Father’s Eyes, Collected Poems by Sheila Jacob / Review, Interview, Poems

” . . . Two months later
you were hurried to the hospital
and died within the week.

“I stuffed your letters in a drawer
and found your fountain pen,
the ink inside still wet.”

excerpt from Letters From Home in Though My Father’s Eyes



I am often hesitant to review and recommend self-published books. Sometimes it seems that however talented and well-intentioned the poet, their collection needed another eye, an editor. We all need one frankly. Having said that, I am pleased with Sheila Jacob’s book as I knew I would be. Sheila did invite feedback from an editor and other poets before finalizing this volume, which I have now read twice and with great pleasure. Such is our humanity and the power of poetry that we can touch hearts across 3,500 miles and the wide Atantic.

Sheila, whose father died when she was thirteen, and I couldn’t be closer in terms of time (I’m a bit older than she is), roots (working class), and parents born on the cusp of or not long after WW I. Our parents were the hard-worked people of the global Great Depression and WW II. They were people who who kept their pain private, lived in gray cities, walked hard streets to work in factories and knew how to squeeze a penny. These elements are one reason why Sheila’s poems spoke to me, but I also know that her poems – this collection – will speak to anyone who values fine poetry as well as their own roots and their own loves and who have had to come to terms with loss and grief. Who among us has not? This small volume is a victory over sorrow and confusion and it brings to life one father and his daughter in all their loveable complex humanity. Recommended. / J.D.

The Doctors said I was a goner. You know the rest,
duck, an Irish nurse slipped a Lourdes medal
under my pillow and hours later I woke up, found
I could breathe on my own and talk.

You used to love the story.

Ah, yes, I see, perhaps I did make a meal
of it, ignored how I felt living through
the Blitz and coming home on leave
to streets of rubble.

I was loaded with memories
you were too innocent
to share.

excerpt from War Record in Through My Father’s Eyes


The poems and excerpts from poems in Through My Father’s Eyes are published here today with Sheila’s permission.


INTERVIEW

JAMIE: Not to diminish the extraordinary quality of your work and how meaningful it will be to others who read it, but writing these poems must have been cathartic for you. Did you come away from the writing feeling healed?

SHEILA: Yes, I did feel healed. Putting words on paper and clarifying my thoughts helped me make sense of my dad’s death, my reaction to it and my overall relationship with him. It enabled me to continue the grieving process which didn’t really begin until I was an adult and had left home. My parents, aunts and uncles, were from the post-war stiff-upper-lip generation who refused to dwell on grief. After Dad’s funeral they carried on as before with very little show of outward emotion and I was encouraged to do the same. My mum had always been a reserved person; she retreated into herself and never spoke to me about Dad even in the most general terms. I was angry and bewildered at the time though now I understand that it was the only way she could cope. 

I suspect there are poems waiting to be written about my mum’s experience: written, hopefully, with the generosity of spirit I didn’t have as a teenager and young adult. And I’m still writing “Dad” poems. The past never stays still.

I also found it necessary- and therapeutic – to explore my dad’s boyhood, which seems to have been a happy one despite financial deprivations, his love of football, and his time in the army during WW II. This gave me a fresh sense of belonging to and being rooted in my Birmingham past.

JAMIE: I seem to remember that you mentioned having stopped writing poetry for years and then started again.  What triggered your reengagement with poetry?

SHEILA: This began in 2013 during an episode of depression. I consulted a clinical psychologist, a most remarkable man with whom I am still in touch. He’d encountered the work of Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath in his professional capacity. When he discovered I used to read and write poetry, he strongly encouraged me to start again. 

I remember how I‘d been seeing him for a few weeks and he suddenly said “Write a poem on the sessions so far.”

I cobbled something together for our next appointment and also dusted off my poetry library, mostly collections by Gillian Clarke, R.S.Thomas and T.S. Eliot.  I continued writing, for his eyes only at first. This gradually expanded. I read a lot about poetry as therapy and wrote a small piece about my own experience for Rachel Kelly’s Blog. Rachel is the author of Black Rainbow, an account of her long struggle against depression and the positive part reading poetry played in her recovery.

I found a website called Creative Writing Ink and took a beginner’s poetry course with a perceptive and experienced tutor, an Irish poet, Eileen Casey. Her feedback was invaluable. I began subscribing to various poetry magazines and, eventually, submitting.  

JAMIE:  In what ways has involvement with online poetry groups been productive for you?

SHEILA: They’ve helped greatly with the quality of my poems. I tend not to write one word when ten will do. I’ve learned/am learning to be more economical and precise with my use of words. My poems are still on the long side but I write in a narrative style that I think lends itself to the longer poem. I’m not a great lover of form but I’ve written sestinas, non-rhyming sonnets, tankas, cinquains and, of course, haiku which really concentrate the mind. I pay more attention to line breaks, line lengths and stanza lengths. I never used to edit my poems let alone re-edit them. Now, I often leave troublesome ones to cook for months before I return to them. 

It’s been enriching to discover the work of a wide variety of poets, living and deceased, and to explore different subject matter. I’ve done courses in ekphrastic poetry, poems of trauma, poems of protest, and poems of place. The most recent course I did was with Jonathan Edwards’ for The Poetry School where he asked us to “step into someone else’s shoes” and write from the point of view of an animal, a building, and an inanimate object, amongst others. I found this very enjoyable and liberating. 

The second benefit of poetry groups is the undoubtedly the fellowship. I’ve received valuable, constructive feedback, I’ve met poets from all over the globe, read styles of poetry I wouldn’t otherwise have engaged with and formed lasting, supportive friendships.

JAMIE: You chose to self-publish, which is something a lot of readers are contemplating.  Why did you do so and what was the experience like?

SHEILA: I would have preferred to publish my chapbook with an established poetry press but the ones I submitted to didn’t like my work well enough to take it on. I have no hard feelings about this. Maybe I should have tried more publishers and waited longer for submission openings but I’m almost sixty nine and didn’t feel that time was on my side.

There was also an emotional element involved. I wanted closure from this particular set of poems by sending them out into the world sooner rather than later. I’d worked hard on them over the years and felt there was a niche for them somewhere in the poetry world. 

I did a mentoring course with Wendy Pratt, a lovely lady and a very fine poet. I sent her a proposed collection to critique and she immediately suggested that I should focus solely on the poems about my Dad. Her encouragement gave me the confidence to self-publish. I also had a lot of support from a Facebook friend Jenni and a local poet friend David Subacchi who has self-published quite a few books and encouraged me to “just do it” without worrying that they weren’t “proper” poems or that it wasn’t a “proper” book.

Once I felt that the poems were as good as I could make them the actual publishing was very straightforward. I contacted a reputable local publisher, David Bentley, whose ideas on layout were useful. He suggested using a thicker, creamy paper to correspond with the memoir theme of the poems.

This wasn’t a cheap process but I had money saved for it and wanted to be in control of the proceedings on the ground rather than through a computer. If I self-publish again I may well take a different approach.


To purchase this little gem of a volume, contact Sheila directly at she1jac@yahoo.com


POEMS

 The Power of Flight    

 After you died                                 

 the echo of your cough                                          

 roamed the house.

 

When a dark shape 

filled your bedroom’s

open window

 

I ran to tell Mum, 

who ran next door,

both of us unnerved

 

by the bird’s frantic

tumble of feathers

and whirr of wings.

 

It’s just a young one

our neighbour laughed

and calmed it with a lift

 

of her hands,

steered it towards                           

the power of flight,

 

the possibility of song.

.

A Boy Called Anthony

Anthony would serve at Mass, ring the consecration bell.

Anthony would play 5-a-side football, win gold trophies.

Anthony would pass his 11-plus, go to St. Philip’s School.

 

When the midwife cried “It’s a girl” Dad searched

for new names, called me after his favourite sister, he sang

pat-a-cake and bake it in the oven for Sheila and me.

 

I couldn’t be an altar boy but knew the Latin responses,

couldn’t play football but watched with Dad at Villa Park,

passed my 11-plus, went to St. Paul’s where the nuns taught.

 

When end-of-term results grew worse, Dad grew angry.

I scowled, sulked- I’d tried my best, just didn’t like Maths.

You should have been a boy called Anthony, Dad snapped.

 

Anthony would have excelled in Maths, Physics and Science.

Anthony wouldn’t have answered back, chewed his nails,

muttered bloody hell, been sent to his room in disgrace.

 

Anthony, I realised then, would never fail or win, Anthony

couldn’t drink dandelion-and-burdock through a straw,

Anthony couldn’t laugh, skip, scrage his knee and bleed.

 

Anthony would never run to Dad, blurt out I’m very sorry,

I promise not to be rude again. He couldn’t hug Dad, weep

against Dad’s shoulder, smell the Brylcreem in Dad’s hair.

 

Don’t forget it’s nearly Father’s Day                                                 

 

As if I could forget how it fell

two days after they lowered

his coffin into the earth

 

though fifty-odd years ago

I was spared online adverts 

for Ben Sherman socks 

and flagons of Dior Savauge.

 

As I’d have offered such gifts

to a man whose socks 

were hand-knitted, darned

at the heel with love;

 

whose favourite cologne

was pure Welsh water 

splashed from the cold tap.

 

As if I wouldn’t make each day

a day to remember had he lived

He’d be a frail centenarian

 

I’d cosset with chunky scarves

and camphor oil; open the old

draughts board knowing 

he’d outplay me every time.

            

– Sheila Jacob


SHEILA JACOB was born and raised in Birmingham, England and lives with her husband in Wrexham, on the Welsh border. Her poetry has been published in several U.K. magazines and webzines. She recently self-published her short collection of poems that form a memoir to her father who died in 1965. Sheila finds her 1950s childhood and family background a source of inspiration for many of her poems. You can connect with Sheila by email: she1jac@yahoo.com


ABOUT

Recent in digital publications: 
* Four poemsI Am Not a Silent Poet
* Remembering Mom, HerStry
* From the Small Beginning, Entropy Magazine (Enclave, #Final Poems)(July 2019)
Upcoming in digital publications:
* Over His Morning Coffee, Front Porch Review (July 2019)
* The Damask Garden, In a Woman’s Voice (August 2019)

A busy though bed-bound poet, writer, former columnist and the former associate editor of a regional employment newspaper, my work has been featured widely in print and digital publications including: Levure littéraireRamingo’s Porch, Vita Brevis Literature, Connotation Press, The Bar None Group, Salamander CoveI Am Not a Silent Poet, Meta/ Phor(e) /Play, Woven Tale PressThe Compass Rose and California Woman. I run The Poet by Day, a curated info hub for poets and writers. I founded The Bardo Group/Beguines, a virtual literary community and publisher of The BeZine of which I am the founding and managing editor. I’ve been featured on The MethoBlog, on the Plumb Tree’s Wednesday Poet’s Corner, and several times as Second Light Live featured poet.

Email me at thepoetbyday@gmail.com for permissions, reprint rights, or comissions.


“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.”  Lucille Clifton



“At the End of War”, DeWitt Clinton / Review, Interview, Poems

“Prayer is said Standing
A Barechu, a call to Worship
We have not bothered, we are weak
We are too weak to even Speak
Every day is our Yom Kippur”
Reading the Tao at Auschwitz, VII, DeWitt Clinton, At the End of War (Kelsay Books, 2018)



DeWitt Clinton’s At the End of War moves with a graceful precision weaving Old Testament  stories with contemporary life, visits to the opera or cafe. Here and there are notes of humor as in On Leaving Socrates with His Jailer and hints of middle-America folksy, as in On the Way to Church Camp, Mother Meets the Devil. He speaks in many voices, blending the perspectives of Judaism and the Tao, slowly moving into the unspeakable tragedy of World War II and the Jewish Holocaust. This is the main event, if you will, of the collection, the obscenity of it layered with sacred ritual and text, an unflinching attempt to come to terms, to find identity, to rise above, to move past. The collection derives its name from the closing poem, which is after Wislawa Szymorska’s The End and the Beginning. 

Wislawa Szymorska begins her poem with:
“After every war
someone has to clean up.
Things won’t
straighten themselves up, after all.”

DeWitt Clinton closes his collection with:
“Brooms. everybody, find all the brooms.
Can anyone send a letter? We need to let
someone know this has happened.

“Tomorrow we can start burning our families.
Surely someone will see the smoke.
Surely someone will come.”

We are in tears as we close the book. We are at once bathed in despair and hope. How many brooms will we need to clean up after all the wars and genocides? Do we finally grasp the futility of war? Will there ever be an end to the genocides of which twenty-four are happening as we “speak”? / J.D.

The excerpts from At the End of War are published here with permission. This book is recommended. / The quotation from The End and the Beginning is from Miracle Fair by Wislawa Szymborsk, translated by Joanna Trzeciack (W.W. Norton and Company Inc., 2001), also recommended.


ON LEAVING SOCRATES ALONE WITH HIS JAILER

(for my students of The Symposium, The Apology,

 Crito and Phaedo)

What started out as a sex wine party turned into a major

Mind concussion for my students, but still, we waded

Through the prose, hopeful they’d find out why

He insisted on so many questions, so many questions,

So many disillusioned Athenians. Yet toward the end,  

We could only face the charges, something about impiety

And influencing the youth, both trumped up, of course,

Mostly as a ruse to run him out of town, if he would go.  

But we knew he would not go.  We voted to acquit,

Even invoking Johnny Cochran’s “if it doesn’t fit,”

But sadly they were only seven at the time, more up

On Paris’s short sojourn than old football stars facing

Bogus trials.  Late in the day, we even considered assisting

Our friend out into the dark, but as you must know,

He trusted in the Laws even if the Laws never assumed

It would go this far.  We talked about “Prison Break,”

But few even had time to watch that, so busy chewing

The dense prose of friend/reporter Plato late on the scene.  

Most of us were quite done in by all the “soul talk”

Of those last pages, and then, we had to leave, some students

Actually having lost their speech, some needing crutches,

Some on life support, leaving our friend wandering

Through the underground calling out for Homer or Orpheus

Or anyone who wouldn’t mind sitting down for a very long

Conversation about nearly everything, since time is now

Beyond even Infinity.  That’s when I left, too, our poor

Cave-like classroom a faux jail cell, wondering if any of us

Could have comforted our gadfly, our inquirer, who is

Just now lifting his cup, resigned, cheery even. Au revoir,

Old friend, let’s hope your students do well on their final.

– excerpt from At the End of War  

INTERVIEW

JAMIE: I think it takes enormous courage to visit Holocaust sites – even to visit the museum in Los Angeles – and then to relive the experience through your writing. Would you speak of that?

DeWITT: One of the more provocative statements about art and The Holocaust is Theodor Adorno’s comment, “To write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric.”  This remark can be taken several ways, including any poetry about anything after Auschwitz, or as I take it, poetry written about Auschwitz after Auschwitz is barbaric.  And why is that?  Perhaps because for all who died, and the few who survived at Auschwitz, and at all the other work and death camps, there was nothing “artistic” about it.  

Ralph Fiennes, playing the character of Michael Berg, in the film, “The Reader,” asks a child survivor of Auschwitz, “Did you learn anything?”  The now aging daughter, played by Lena Olin, replies, “People ask all the time what I learned in the camps. But the camps weren’t therapy. What do you think these places were? Universities? We didn’t go there to learn.” She continues by saying, “Nothing comes out of the camps. Nothing.”  

The death camps were neither schools, nor artistic experiences, but it is through art that we can at least remember some of what happened, even if it did not happen to the artist.  I’ve been writing about historical events for a number of decades now, and while the art is anachronistic, I think it is also an extension of that history as well.  I recall writing about the Spanish conquistador wars against the native Maya, Aztec and Incan tribes, (The Conquistador Dog Texts, and The Coyot. Inca Texts, New Rivers Press, o.o.p.) and the poetry is certainly not “accurate,” as a historian might write, but it is an artistic rendering of the horrible inflictions the native tribes experienced.  The same may be true for writing about the Holocaust. 

I’ve read historical renderings of the Holocaust, and read poetry and plays and memoirs about the Holocaust as well, and the latter are far more interesting to me as an artist. While studying the Tao de Ching with my undergraduate students, I began to consider a new path that I might take in trying to remember my experience of visiting Auschwitz I and II camps several years ago.  The result is an unusual fusion, and quite anachronistic, but I hope readers will ponder the insights of Lao Tzu as they read “Taoist like” poems of what the prisoners might have thought about as they were starving to death, or what they might have wondered as tens of thousands were marched to the gas chambers and crematoriums.  

I have read a number of artistic renderings of Holocaust experiences, and I hope anyone who reads “Reading the Tao at Auschwitz” will be open to considering a new lens to consider the horrors experienced by all who died, or survived.  I can also appreciate how survivors, or children, or grandchildren of survivors, might be appalled by such artistic renderings of mine.  It’s a long and difficult to absorb poem, but I hope it is also a valuable contribution to Holocaust literature.  

JAMIE: As a writer, what drew you to poetry instead of other literary options?

DeWITT: I’ve always imagined writing screen plays, novels, stage plays, short stories, novellas, and an array of other genres of imaginative writing, but I’ve been drawn to poetry ever since a college professor asked me to rewrite a prose piece to poetry.  Then I enrolled in a poetry writing workshop with the same professor my last semester, and though I can’t or don’t want to remember what I wrote in that class, the experience was quite wonderful, especially the instructor’s wife’s cookies.  I’ve been drawn to poetry workshops, classes, conferences, and retreats for quite some time now, and do I know why I’m still drawn to poetry?  No I don’t, even though I am still poking around for images and lines.  It’s just a huge joy to be able to still compose poetry, no matter what evolves from a writing session.  

JAMIE: As a beginning writer, what poetry most inspired you and why? 

DeWITT: I took a copy of Coney Island of the Mind with me to Vietnam in late 1969 and read it over and over, but not when we were being shelled or fired upon.  I may have taken other poetry collections, perhaps The Wasteland, but I’m not sure about what I read.  But I did enroll (by correspondence) in an extension class from the University of Kansas at Lawrence. The course was a fairly traditional reading class of modern poetry, and though I enjoyed it, I soon asked the professor if I could send him some scraps of poetry I’d been writing on a 105 howitzer firebase in Vietnam which would later become “The Spirit of the Bayonet Fighter,” published in Harper & Row’s Winning Hearts and Minds.

By the end of my tour, I was hoping to enroll in grad school at Wichita State University which offered a M.A. in English & Creative Writing, and later an M.F.A. and a Ph.D. in English and Creative Writing at Bowling Green State University (Ohio).   By then, and then was a long time ago, I was interested in what would later become a career of teaching English and creative writing, and hopefully, writing more poetry, and finding a few kind hearted editors.  The teaching career is over, but I still look forward to writing new poems, and I’m still sending out a few now and then.

JAMIE: What’s next on the agenda for you?

It occurred to me only a few days ago that I may have a third collection of poems (a second collection is in production with Michael Dickel, Gary Lundy, and Is a Rose Press, an adaptation of Kenneth Rexroth’s 100 Poems from the Chinese) as I’ve been writing much more since I retired from teaching a few years ago.  I’m not quite sure it’s ready for submission as a book, but I’d like to keep working on it.  One press has a deadline in late August, and I’m hoping to aim for that as a possible submission.  Poetry isn’t everything in my life, as I also appreciate the benefits of Iyengar Yoga, and training for races and triathlons.  The next big one is in Berlin, one of the 6 world major marathons.  I certainly did not qualify to be in the race because of my lightning speed, but instead I earned a “lottery” ticket, which was a random selection of thousands of hopeful participants.  Sightseeing a few days after, including a short trip to the Wannsee chateau where during a luncheon in early 1942, high ranking Nazi Party and military officers designed what was known as “The Final Solution.”  


“From this place
Ashes rising from this place
Ashes circling as far as one could see
Ashes circling over All
Over Everyone over Everything
Circling a constant circling
A rink forever circling
a constant ringing s’hma Israel”
Reading the Tao at Auschwitz, XVIII, excerpt from At the End of War  


Sh’ma Yisrael Adonai Eloheinu Adonai Ecḥad
Hear, O Israel: the Lord is our God, the Lord is One


Photo by Meredith W. Watts, “For Good” Photography​

DeWITT CLINTON  is the author of three books of poetry:  The Conquistador Dog Texts and The Coyot. Inca Texts (New Rivers Press), At the End of the War (Kelsay Books, 2018), and a fourth collection is coming out in late 2019 or 2020:  On a Lake by a Moon: Fishing with the Chinese Masters, (Is A Rose Press).  His poems and essays have appeared in The Journal of Progressive Judaism (with co-author Rabbi David Lipper), Journal of Inter-Religious Dialogue, Cultural Studies< => Critical Methodologies, Storytelling Sociology: Narrative as Social Inquiry, and Divine Inspiration: The Life of Jesus in World Poetry (Oxford U Press).

A few recent publications include The Last Call: The Anthology of Beer, Wine & Spirits Poetry, Santa Fe Literary Review, Verse-Virtual, New Verse News, Ekphrastic Review, Diaphanous Press, Meta/Phor(e)Play, The Arabesques Review, and The New Reader Review.  He is Professor Emeritus of English at the University of Wisconsin—Whitewater, and lives with his wife, Jacqueline, in Shorewood, a small village one street north of Milwaukee.  

DeWitt’s Amazon Page U.S. is HERE.
DeWitt’s Amazon Page U.K. is HERE.


ABOUT

Recent in digital publications: 
* Four poems in “I Am Not a Silent Poet”
* Remembering Mom in HerStry
* Three poems in Levure littéraire
Upcoming in digital publications:
“Over His Morning Coffee,” Front Porch Review

A homebound writer, poet, and former columnist and associate editor of a regional employment newspaper, my work has been featured widely in print and digital publications including: Ramingo’s Porch, Vita Brevis Literature, Connotation Press, The Bar None Group, Salamander Cove, I Am Not a Silent Poet, The Compass Rose and California Woman. I run The Poet by Day, an info hub for poets and writers and am the founding/managing editor of The BeZine.


“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.”  Lucille Clifton



 

“Brooklyn: A Personal Memoir” by Truman Capote with the lost photographs of David Attie … not just for my Brooklyn peeps

Truman Capote (1924 – 1984)

“I am always drawn back to places where I have lived, the houses and their neighborhoods.” Truman Capote, Breakfast at Tiffany’s



by Truman Capote (Author), David Attie (Photographer), George Plimpton (Introduction), Eli Attie (Afterword)

Of the books I read this year, this birthday gift from my son and my daughter-in-law is by far my favorite … and not just because I’m from Brooklyn and it’s a bit of nostalgia and a stellar homage. I’m a Capote fan and a David Attie fan and Brooklyn: A Personal Memoir by Truman Capote With the Lost Photographs of David Attie brings the writer and photographer together in the most delightful way.

“I live in Brooklyn by choice.”

If you’re a Capote fan, you’ll learn about his life in Brooklyn and just why he loved it. There are two photographs of a young Truman that some fans might find worth the price of admission. One is on the book cover (above) the other is included in the video below. The photographic collection in this book was originally commissioned to use as a promo for Capote after the publication of his novella, Breakfast At Tiffany‘s (1958).

Capote captures the essential Brooklyn in his writing, the singular gentility of the time and place, the grittiness of certain quarters, and the ways in which it could be excentric. Attie’s  photos – taken in 1959 – document the tenor of a time now alive only in the memory of a generation that is slowly passing.

David Attie’s photographs were never published and thought to be lost. When Attie’s son Eli found them, he merged them together with Capote’s narrative and they were published at last, a visual feast, engaging for Brooklynites, Capote fans, literary history and photography buffs.

Photo credit: Jack Mitchell under CC BY-SA 4.0; signature is public domain.

The short video below gives a brief overview of the book and includes many of David Attie’s photographs. If you are reading this post from an email subscription, you’ll likely have to link through to the site to view the video.



What would you find pleasant or helpful on The Poet by Day in 2019?  What have you found helpful to date? Link HERE to let me know.




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Poet and writer, I was once columnist and associate editor of a regional employment publication. I currently run this site, The Poet by Day, an information hub for poets and writers. I am the managing editor of The BeZine published by The Bardo Group Beguines (originally The Bardo Group), a virtual arts collective I founded.  I am a weekly contributor to Beguine Again, a site showcasing spiritual writers. My work is featured in a variety of publications and on sites, including: Levure littéraure, Ramingo’s PorchVita Brevis Literature,Compass Rose, Connotation PressThe Bar None GroupSalamander CoveSecond LightI Am Not a Silent PoetMeta / Phor(e) /Play, and California Woman. My poetry was recently read by Northern California actor Richard Lingua for Poetry Woodshed, Belfast Community Radio. I was featured in a lengthy interview on the Creative Nexus Radio Show where I was dubbed “Poetry Champion.”


The BeZine: Waging the Peace, An Interfaith Exploration featuring Fr. Daniel Sormani, Rev. Benjamin Meyers, and the Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi among others

“What if our religion was each other. If our practice was our life. If prayer, our words. What if the temple was the Earth. If forests were our church. If holy water–the rivers, lakes, and ocean. What if meditation was our relationships. If the teacher was life. If wisdom was self-knowledge. If love was the center of our being.” Ganga White, teacher and exponent of Yoga and founder of White Lotus, a Yoga center and retreat house in Santa Barbara, CA

“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.” Lucille Clifton