Celebrating American She-Poets (34): Clarissa Simmens, A Passion for Shakespeare

Clarissa Simmens

“I adore social media.  FaceBook and WordPress have been incredible avenues of not only reading the words of poets world-wide, but also gaining friends, virtual but real  . . .The poets are people like me and you who want the same thing: respect, a safe and healthy environment for family and friends, and the freedom to have fun without being hurt or harming others.  I think the great [William Shakespeare] would have loved the world-wide web…” Clarissa Simmens

A couple of weeks ago The Poet by Day, Wednesday Writing Prompt was Spinning With Shakespeare. Readers were challenged to write a poem using phrases from Shakespeare that have come into general usage. It was fun. The poems were great. You can read them HERE.  Meanwhile, it happens that Clarissa Simmens has a passion for Shakespeare, so much so that she does a yearly poetic homage to WS, as she refers to him. She shared her 2018 homage with us in comments. Here (below) are those poems for you to read today along with an interview of Clarissa and her bio.   

Shakespearian Trivia: As I read through Clarissa’s responses to my interview questions, I had to chuckle.  Her intro to Shakespeare was in high school and included a local movie-theater-showing of Hamlet with Richard Burton in the lead.  I suspect Clarissa and I are of an age and may have seen the same show.  My intro to Shakespeare included the 1964 “electrovision” (early video/closed circuit TV) version of Hamlet at our own local movie theater. Apparently this presentation was being delivered to high school students all over the U.S. as an English literature course requirement. The production was directed by Sir John Gielgud. It was done sans period costumes and with minimal sets. It is said that Burton disliked the production and wanted the videos destroyed.  Apparently at least one copy survived. I found it HERE on YouTube.  Time has tampered with the visual but there’s nothing wrong with the sound. Close your eyes and listen. Enjoyable!

– Jamie Dedes


Shakespeare’s Birthday Approximately April 23, 1564

In cold country I sadly plucked the lute
Shining in England, you the rising son {sun}
Seeking me in verse, yet remaining mute
Why don’t you know we are meant to be one

Oh, dear Will, you were fated to be mine
Although centuries separate us now
Twin souls formed by a heavenly design
Calling your name, but me you disavow

Yet I’ve glimpsed your soul somewhere in my space
Perhaps in a yellow striped bumble bee
And though you changed I recognize your face
But stung by your insensitivity

Wading through tears, my grief so prodigious
We’ve lost so much, love now sacrilegious

(c) 2018 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)


#60 Sin of self-love possesseth all mine eye
#88 When thou shalt be disposed to set me light
#66 Tired with all these, for restful death I cry
#80 O, how I faint when I of you do write.

#139 O, call not me to justify the wrong
#150 O, from what power hast thou this powerful might
#100 Where art thou, Muse, that thou forget’st so long
#28 How can I then return in happy plight

#43 When most I wink, then do mine eyes best see
#66 Tired with all these, for restful death I cry
#52 So am I as the rich, whose blessed key
#115 Those lines that I before have writ do lie

#56 Sweet love, renew thy force; be it not said
#71 No longer mourn for me when I am dead

© 2014 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja) and William Shakespeare

Characters from Shakespeare’s plays. Unknown artist.


JAMIE: When and how did your passion for Shakespeare start?

CLARISSA: I saw my first Shakespeare play in high school. It was a class trip to a local movie house showing Hamlet starring Richard Burton. This was a filming of a rehearsal with no scenery or costumes. There Burton was in a black sweater (my favorite clothing color) and without the distraction of a mise en scène, Hamlet suddenly became real to me:  just words and emotion. I then began reading his plays very carefully. Around that time, I bought a copy of MacBird!, the Macbeth satire centering around the theory that President Johnson was behind the JFK assassination. Once again, I saw the incredible relevance of WS. I began reading him for enjoyment, rather than to pass school tests and although not covered in class, I discovered his sonnets.  How I love the structure of a Shakespearean Sonnet! Everything WS wrote can be seen in a modern context and that was what I needed to learn in order to enjoy him.

JAMIE: What drew you to writing your own poetry?

CLARISSA: At about age 3 or 4 I had a Little Golden Book called A Bird Can Fly and So Can I.  There was about a line or two for a series of animals and my parents read it to me so many times that I memorized it and composed my own poem about a pig.  I don’t know if I had an innate sense of rhythm or if it is the autism, but although I was never a finger waver (we are all different on the Autism Spectrum) I was certainly a “counter” and loved flicking my fingers over numbers and syllables especially.  Rhyming poetry just suited me. Didn’t know the name, but when I finally learned about Iambic Pentameter (and all those other meters) I began writing my own sonnets. I mostly write open and free verse now, but I think the physical part of words has been replaced by my playing ukulele and guitar.  Something about pressing the chords and plucking them on string instruments reminds me of rhythmic, but structured, writing.

JAMIE: Who are the poets other than Shakespeare that you admire?

CLARISSA: The great Confessional Poet Sylvia Plath will always be my heroine because of the honest sharing of her mental health struggle. It is the reason why I mention my autism in many of my poems. Another is Emily Dickinson with her slashing dashes.  I tend to end my poems with ellipses because it is as if my voice is trailing off… But one day I wondered if I was unconsciously doing a passive-aggressive imitation of her. Marina Tsvetaeva who said “I know the truth” (and she did) has touched me no matter how many times I read her poems.  Allen Ginsberg’s Howl changed my whole opinion of poetry, indoctrinating me into a lifetime of so-called hippie-ism that can be interpreted as love of peace and tree-hugging. TS Eliot’s Waste Land, despite his bigotry in other works, has always remained one of my favorite poems (as you can see in my first poetry book Madame Sosostris Explains). Finally, I would add Bob Dylan. Once announcing to a Survey of American Lit class that he was the greatest contemporary poet, the class and the instructor howled with laughter, so all these years later I finally felt vindicated when he won the Nobel Prize in Literature.

JAMIE: What is the importance of poetry on the global scene?

I adore social media.  FaceBook and WordPress have been incredible avenues of not only reading the words of poets world-wide, but also gaining friends, virtual but real, nevertheless.  I don’t sell many poetry books on Amazon but am pleased to see that many of my books are borrowed in India and Japan.  Most of all, it is the only way to truly learn about different cultures. This is why I enjoy your associated Ezines including The BeZine and The Poet By Day, 100,000 Poets for Change, and other sites you have generously shared. Reading globally, and being able to comment on other works, are what I consider grassroots-level knowledge. These poems are not media soundbites or part of a political or monetary agenda. The poets are people like me and you who want the same thing: respect, a safe and healthy environment for family and friends, and the freedom to have fun without being hurt or harming others. I think the great WS would have loved the world-wide web…

Thank you for giving me this opportunity to share my thoughts with you!

© 2019, words and photo, Clarissa Simmens; Shakespearian characters illustration is in the public domain.

CLARISSA SIMMENS (Poeturja) is an independent poet; Romani drabarni (herbalist/advisor); ukulele and guitar player; wannabe song writer; and music addict. Favorite music genres include Classic Rock, Folk, Romani (Gypsy), and Cajun with an emphasis on guitar and violin music mainly in a Minor key. Find her on Amazon’s Author Page, on her blog, and on Facebook HERE.

Clarissa’s books include: Chording the Cards & Other Poems, Plastic Lawn Flamingos & Other Poems, and Blogetressa, Shambolic Poetry.


Witching Hour … and other responses to the last Wednesday Writing Prompt

“Alas! a woman that attempts the pen,
Such an intruder on the rights of men,
Sucha presuptuouos Creature, is esteem’d,
The fault can by no virtue be redeem’d …
How are we fallen, fallen by mistaken rules?
Ad Education’s , more than Nature’s foods,
Debarr’d from all improve-meats of the mind,
And to be dull, expected and designed …
-Anne Finch, The Poems of Anne Countess of Winchilesea, ed. by Myra Reynolds
as quoted by Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar, Shakespeare’s Sisters, Feminist Essays on Women Poets

I think our poets just had a lot of fun with the last Wednesday Writing Prompt,Spinning With Shakespeare, February 20, 2019. I had  fun reading them and so will you.

Thanks Gary W. Bowers, Irma Do, Jan Goldie, and Anjum Wasim Dar.  Thanks also to Cubby (Sonya Annita Song) for her contribution. Please welcome her warmly. She is new to Wednesday Writing Prompt.  Special thanks to Irma Do and Anjum Wasim Dar for the added value of the photographs and to Anjum for her artwork as well. Appreciation to Clarissa Simmens for sharing her Shakespeare homage.  They’ll be shared in a separate post.

I’m tickled to see that folks are commenting on one another’s poems and visiting one another’s sites.  That what it’s really all about. Bravo!  Readers will note that links to sites are included when they are available so that you can visit. If there’s no site, it’s likely you can catch up with the poet on Facebook.

Enjoy this unique collection and do join us tomorrow for the next Wednesday Writing Prompt.

To Scratch or Not to Scratch

To scratch, or not to scratch, that is the question:
Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The itch and burn of abusive mosquito bites
Or to take arms against a sea of irritation
And by opposing end them:

To scratch, to rub, no more;
And by a rub to say we end
The frustration and the maddening,
Relentless shocks that flesh is heir to?
‘Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished.

To scratch, to rub – to rub, perchance to slake:
Aye, there’s the bub,
For in that rub of satiation
What doubts may come
When we have abandoned
This self-restraint must give us pause.
There’s the inanity that creates confusion
Of such simplicity:

For who would bear the jolts and pangs of bites,
The insatiable lust,
The sleepless nights,
The pangs of irate skin,
The obsessive thoughts,
The insolence of the unbitten,
And the spurns that impatient scratchers
By the self-righteous take,
When he himself might his liberation make
With a sole finger?

Who would itchiness bear,
To shake and tremble
Under a tortured skin,
But that the dread of something
After the scratch,
The possibility of greater itch to come,
From whose scratch no human can deny,
Puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear the itch we have
Than scratch to others that we know not of?

© 2019, Sonya Annita Song (a.k.a. Cubby) (Reowr, Poetry that purrs. It’s reword because the cat said so.)

c Sonya Annita Song

SONYA ANNITA SONG is a poet whose rhymes are loved by both adults and children. Her writing style for children is delightfully whimsical with a natural flow meant for reading out loud. Sonya’s goal as a children’s author is to create engaging rhyming picture books that children and parents will have fun reading together. One of her favorite memories as a child is going to the local library in the summer and bringing back shopping bags full of books to read. Books were, and still are, passports to incredible destinations full of joy and wonder, and Sonya hopes all children will discover the marvels of reading just like she did. Children’s site: http://www.sonyaannitasong.com;  Poemhunter: http://www.poemhunter.com/sonya-annita-song/ .  Clipped from Cubby’s Amazon page.

dj b.ill.e shex

how sharper n a SERPENT’S tooth
n one bare bodkin
singe my white head
4 b n old
2 b r naught
poor tom’s acold

ah words words words
r’t naught th point
o band o bruhs
time out
a joint

© 2019, Gary W. Bowers (One with Clay, Image and Text)

Recycling Shakespeare for a Better World – A Haiku Sonnet

In this brave new world

Plant a heart of gold, harvest

A bouquet of friends

Faint-hearted farming

Doesn’t yield food for the soul

Cold comfort hunger

Break the ice – Be brave

Be fancy free with warm words

Of love and welcome

All our yesterdays

Are meant to be composted

Nutrient wisdom

Silence can kill with kindness

But regretful words do not.

This was a fun and challenging prompt initiated by Jamie for The Poet by Day Wednesday Writing Prompt. She writes, “Fe, foh, and fun … Take a spin with Shakespeare and write us a poem using phrases of his that have come into common usage.” I honestly didn’t realize that all these phrases came from Shakespeare’s work! I’ve really only read “Romeo and Juliet” and some sonnets so seeing all these common phrases attributed to his work was quite a surprise. Check out this link if you want to see what Shakespearean works the phrase I used came from.

And of course, I had to do a sonnet to further honor The Bard. To give it a bit of my own flavor, I chose the Haiku Sonnet form. Again, I never new there was such a thing until I saw it in this website here.

Learning new things and new ways of looking at the world is one of the best gifts I’ve gotten from writing and reading poetry. What do you think of this recycled Shakespearean piece?

© 2019, words and photo, Irma Do (I Do Run. And I do a few other things too …)

Witching Hour

All that glitters, is not gold and

all’s well that ends well, he sighed.

Yet there was no method in his

madness, for the naked truth is,

he made the foregone conclusion,

that misery acquaints a man with

strange bedfellows, and that the

course of love never runs smooth,

which left him heartsick and lackluster.


At the witching hour of the night,

When churchyards yawn and hell

itself breathes out, and as he breathed

his one last breath, a ministering

angel of infinite space, came to save

him from the jaws of death, and

trippingly on the tongue, said,


What, a piece of work is man.

What  fools these mortals be,

violent delights have violent ends.

Ah, There’s the rub.Truth will out,

he’s had too much of a good thing.

Love is not love which alters

when, it alteration finds.

And thereby ends the tale.

Which is tedious as a

Twice Told tale, but

What is done is done.

© 2019, Jen Goldie (Starlight and Moonbeams and the Occasional Cat)

In Words: A Shakespearian Tale

Neither a borrower nor a lender be!
As luck would have it, in this brave new
world I managed to break the ice,
discovering that brevity is the soul of wit.
The fellow refused to budge an inch, this
was cold comfort as conscience does
make cowards of us all. I, with bated breath,
In one fell swoop, decided to play it fast
and loose, set my teeth on edge
and with a heart of gold, proclaimed,
ill wind blows no man to good!
You have eaten me out of house and home,
For goodness sake! Good riddance!
I am more sinned against than sinning!
In my heart of hearts, I had to conclude
the game is on. Love, is blind filled with
forgotten yesterdays. I gave the devil
his due, for much ado about nothing.
“O God, O God, how weary, stale,
flat, and unprofitable seem
to me all the uses of this world.”
“My tongue will tell the anger of my heart,
Or else my heart, concealing it, will break.
And rather than it shall, I will be free
Even to the uttermost, as I please,
in words.”

© 2019, Jen Goldie (Starlight and Moonbeams and the Occasional Cat)

‘Tis the Road Out of the Frame


Who’s there? unfold yourself ‘
Oh ’tis the road, out of frame, once
in grace, wore an inky metaled cloak …

With memories sweet- on it
trotted Arabian horses, held by leather
reins, with mirth in riding, jingling bells

Would lift the learning loads and
stay on the beat-  but
something is rotten, makes me sick
at heart-  behold  in silence it lies 

So defiant in dilapidated defeat!
it seems to be there, still serving in retreat-
Though gone is the tar crush and concrete;

Ah Old  Harley Road, I speak with reason,
You have the best on you, treading 
You are replete with learning homes
words words and words,

But، Ah there’s the rub-
The craters humps and dilapidation-
Oh Lord, what are we learning  
in this precarious condition? 
That is the question-

While yet the memory of good times
be green ,me thinketh,
Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer,
the slings and jumps of outrageous travel-
The heart aches, thousand natural shocks
that the flesh is heir to-or to take up arms
against oceans of ditchy trouble,
Or by opposing, clean sweep them…?

Who would bear the whips and scorns
of time immemorial, the laws delay,
the repairs astray, the rains decay ;
all is not well, tis an unweeded garden-
do we continue to grunt and sweat
on a weary road? tis but my fantasy,
as  foul deeds will rise’, beware  the
Ides of March…

Oh Fair Poetess, soft you now ,
Ah there’s the bump..OUCH…!
Angels and ministers of grace defend us’

s.peares home
Shakespeare’s Home -An Artist’s View

© 2019, poem (English and Urdu), photograph, and colored-pencil drawing, Anjum Wasim Dar (Poetic Oceans)

کچھ  خستہ و بدحال سڑک کے بارے میں

کون ھے؟
اپنے آپ کو ظاھر کرو

ارے  یہ  تو  اکھڑی ھویؑ سڑک ھے  زخمی 
کبھی  گہری   شاھانہ  پوشاک پہنے ھوتی تھی

میتٹھے سہانے سفروں کی یادیں سمیٹے ، گھنٹی
بجاتے تانگوں پہ بچوں کو سکول پہنچاتی تھی

اب  خاموشی  میں لپٹی  اطاعت  سے  بچھی ھے
 گر  چہ اڑ  چکا ھے  تار کول ، غایب ھے بجری ساری

دلاؑیل  سے بات ھو تو سوال اٹھے ، جھٹکے دھکے
کھا کر گزریں، کیا حاصل علم ھو ، روحانی یا کتابی

جب تک اس پہ گزرے وقت کی اچھی یادیں باکی ھیں
دل تھام کہ اٹھایں غلیل ،مرہم پٹی سب کرواین  سرکاری

 کون کرے انتیظار،قانون پہ  انہسار، ھو بارشوں میں خوار
  ملک مشکل میں ،کھرپا  درانتی نا مالی، پھر خزانہ بھی خالی

اے شاعر معصوم  انجم   مہینہ مارچ کا سخت ھے بچنا زرا
 یہ  لو ، کھایؑ   اک اور ظرب کاری speed breaker آیا آیا او 

“POETRY PEACE and REFORM Go Together -Let Us All Strive for PEACE on EARTH for ALL -Let Us Make a Better World -WRITE To Make PEACE PREVAIL.” Anjum Wasim Dar


Spinning with Shakespeare – a poem and your next Wednesday Writing Prompt

“Write till your ink be dry, and with your tears
Moist it again, and frame some feeling line
That may discover such integrity …
William Shakespeare, Two Gentleman of Verona

E tu Brute

He did not beware
the Ides of March
And thereby hangs a tale
As luck would have it
It beggared all description

In my mind’s eye:
Is this a dagger I see before me?
Good riddance, you said
Fight fire with fire
You cried havoc, and he
Dead as a doornail
Cold as stone

Oh, woe is me
When sorrows come,
they come not as single spies,
but whole battalions
Short shift
You sent him packing
and more fool you

© 2019, poem, Jamie Dedes; public domain illustration ~ “This was long thought to be the only portrait of William Shakespeare that had any claim to have been painted from life, until another possible life portrait, the Cobbe portrait, was revealed in 2009. The portrait is known as the ‘Chandos portrait‘ after a previous owner, James Brydges, 1st Duke of Chandos. It was the first portrait to be acquired by the National Portrait Gallery (U.K.) in 1856. The artist may be by a painter called John Taylor who was an important member of the Painter-Stainers’ Company.”


Fe, foh, and fun … Take a spin with Shakespeare and write us a poem using phrases of his that have come into common usage.  If you need a bit of help, you’ll find some HERE. You can mix your own words with Shakespeare’s or stick strictly with his. Your choice.

Share your poems on theme in the comments section below or leave a link to it/them. All poems on theme will be published on the first Tuesday following this post.

 No poems submitted through email or Facebook will be published. 

IF this is your first time joining us for The Poet by Day, Wednesday Writing Prompt, please send a brief bio and photo to me at thepoetbyday@gmail.com to introduce yourself to the community … and to me :-). These are partnered with your poem/s on first publication.

PLEASE send the bio ONLY if you are with us on this for the first time AND only if you have posted a poem (or a link to one of yours) on theme in the comments section below.  

Deadline:  Monday, February 25 by 8 pm Pacific Standard.

Anyone may take part Wednesday Writing Prompt, no matter the status of your career: novice, emerging or pro.  It’s about exercising the poetic muscle, showcasing your work, and getting to know other poets who might be new to you. This is a discerning non-judgemental place to connect.

You are welcome – encouraged – to share your poems in a language other than English but please accompany it with a translation into English.


These Poetry Cats Meow!


If you haven’t met Simon’s Cat before, check him out HERE.

This post is sponsored by Gypsy (The Cat’s Meow)…

Gypsy, the Columbus Avenue Beat Poet Days

Dig the cool cat: from her Columbus Avenue Beat poet days She was a Howl. (So, okay, I know that’s corny.)

Simon’s Cat courtesy of Simon’s Cat; Gypsy courtesy of Karen Fayeth, ©  2013, All rights reserved

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