chapbooks and four book collections. What is the driving force behind
Prof CLINTON Hardworking? Well, I’m hardly hardworking, at least when it comes to writing and publishing. I simply have been around awhile, so perhaps my writing and publications have simply “accumulated” over time.
I began writing as a senior in college in the late 1960’s. I’ve been writing on and off since, but many months, even years, might pass before I begin writing anew, and it is always a surprise to me that I still am inspired and invigorated to see what might develop with new lines, new paragraphs, new poems, new essays, etc. Though I continued to write throughout my teaching career at a state university in Wisconsin, developing short critical essays, book reviews, committee reports, a few poems, I found it quite challenging to find time for inspiration while grading each week, month, academic years, and decades millions and millions of student essays, reading each one carefully, and commenting on what a student could do to improve the work which often, but not always, was a first draft. If someone who has no writing practice and doesn’t appreciate the time to write, or read, then a first draft can be quite problematic, but if after writing for several decades, a first draft might be close to a final draft, whether that is prose or poetry. The driving force might be the surprise and delight that once again, I’m finding a line or two to develop into something, and whether it turns into poetry, or prose, doesn’t really matter, as long as the writing turns in some way into a satisfying experience. I probably would have “given up” decades ago as publishing is such a whimsical, iffy phenomenon as editors/publishers may not have the same interest in my new work (going back decades, of course) as I might have. The process of writing is always invigorating. The process of publishing is much more problematic, and often, a disappointing pursuit, but every now and then, I’m shouting Hallelujah, and I’m just as excited about that good news this year, as I did way back in the 1970’s.
Prof CLINTON Everything. Writing poetry means I still have a few aging brain cells that kick into high gear when I hear or imagine a line appearing on the screen, and following through, wondering what in the heck will appear as I explore possibilities which I’ve not ventured on, and delighted there’s still a chance to travel or to imagine something that has never crossed, or entered into the possibility of a new poem, or as well, something with more prose like paragraphs, as here, wondering what poetry means. I’m quite grateful for this opportunity, and I still wonder how it all started, not in grade school or even high school, but right near the end of college when I enrolled in a class taught by a recent Iowa Workshop poet. He made the suggestion, and I’m so glad I’m still listening to him, even if he’s gone.
I’m often asked who’s a favorite poet, or novelist, or playwright, or screenplay writer, or director, and really, I can’t read that much that fast, so I am quite content to simply discover, or uncover a poet I may have read recently, or long ago, and enjoy the craft and imagination at that one moment, so no, there’s no favorite, as the favorite is always exchanging places with someone else. If I refer to only the “best” poets or the poets I always read, I’d probably miss way too much of what poets are writing, then, and now. I do and still do enjoy the classical Chinese poets, and their work has inspired me to write a paean to all those poets, through the translation of Kenneth Rexroth and his One Hundred Poets from the Chinese. But I’ll probably, with no particular intentions, find a book in a bookstore, or on the Amazon, or through a recommendation, or request, and enjoy that poet or writer for the moment. My curiosity is always changing/evolving into newer, older interests.
Prof CLINTON See replies in Question 2.
Prof CLINTON Well, it’s been a long time for either so the feelings have waned a bit. I’m always, and hope I will always be appreciative when editors/judges make favorable choices with my work. Sometimes the fellowship or grant applications takes considerable time to develop and shape, and edit and edit. On the other hand, awards for poems are not quite so time consuming as one has already written the work. Let’s hope there may still be time to submit and apply for future awards.
international collaborations throughout your writing and literary
Prof CLINTON Though I’m not an international collaborationist, I do have an international interest in a wide variety of places and events as I am interested both a wide variety of historical events, as well as a keen desire
To see a few places on earth. First international travels were to Vietnam (served in the artillery division of the Army), though that did not seem like any holiday. A few trips to Mexico, including a visit to Tenochtitlan, a sacred home of the ancient Maya, and though I had written about the site years before with a long historical poem, “The Beast Christos,” improvised from “The Chilam Balam of Chumayel,” it was thrilling in the 110 degree heat to stand near one of the sacrificial cenotes, or wells, where privileged youth jumped into the mysterious water, only to sink to the bottom of the well, wearing heavy jewelry on behalf of the ancient gods. Years later, my wife and I accompanied a women’s’ college class to Lithuania, Poland and the Czech Republic for a “tour of the Holocaust.” One memorable stop was at Auschwitz, and months later, I wrote a long poem, “Reading the Tao at Auschwitz.” So often, I am inspired by places, new scenery, trips abroad as they often inspire new lines of poetry. Other memorable trips to Italy, and later on a Mediterranean “cruise” holiday, but no poems, just refreshing views. The last memorable journey was to Berlin, though shortly before arriving, I fainted aboard a flight near Iceland, and had to visit a local ER to see why I had such a high potassium level, so I missed a big event, the Berlin Marathon, which pretty much closed down my long training sessions for such long runs. So even though I’m not an international collaborationist, I have enjoyed seeing a few wonderful places on the planet.
faring and how does it feel to have a forthcoming book collection in
Prof CLINTON The newest collection of poems (October 2020) is a book length poetic adaptation of 114 poems in Kenneth Rexroth’s 1971 publication (New Directions) of his One Hundred Poems from the Chinese.Poet, editor and publisher Michael Dickel (Is A Rose Press) and his team worked on developing a stunning presentation, with a world book launch scheduled from Milwaukee on Nov. 11, 7:30 pm CST. “By a Lake Near a Moon: Fishing with the Chinese Masters” was a delight to work on, especially as I had spent many previous years developing Holocaust response poems, some short and some very long. I admit I was looking for something to help cleanse my old spirit of such dark times. Perhaps I can send a flyer from the host, Boswell Books of Milwaukee. The next book project is accepted for possibly late 2021 or early 2022, newer poems under the working title, “Hello There,” a collection of mixed poems from years ago, and a few months ago. I hope these three newer books will add to earlier books based on Conquistador narratives, primarily translated Spanish narratives. Who knows what’s next, or if there will be a “next” in these Covid-19 times.
IS A ROSE PRESS – Publishers of “By a Lake Near a Moon: Fishing with the Chinese Masters” Poet DeWitt Clinton latest collection.
*with Poet , Editor and Publisher Michael Dickel*
…has yet to be told in its current unfolding.
But here is a bit about our name, “is a rose press.” It comes from Gertrude Stein. Here is what Phrase Finder (UK) reports about it:
A rose is a rose is a rose…
The line is from Gertrude Stein’s poem Sacred Emily, written in 1913 and published in 1922, in Geography and Plays. The verbatim line is actually, ‘Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose’:
Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose
Pages ages page ages page ages.
When asked what she meant by the line, Stein said that in the time of Homer, or of Chaucer, “the poet could use the name of the thing and the thing was really there.” As memory took it over, the thing lost its identity, and she was trying to recover that—”I think in that line the rose is red for the first time in English poetry for a hundred years.”
Stein was certainly fond of the line and used variants of it in several of her works:
– Do we suppose that all she knows is that a rose is a rose is a rose is a rose. (Operas and Plays)
– … she would carve on the tree Rose is a Rose is a Rose is a Rose is a Rose until it went all the way around. (The World is Round)
– A rose tree may be a rose tree may be a rosy rose tree if watered. (Alphabets and Birthdays)
– Indeed a rose is a rose makes a pretty plate. (Stanzas in Meditation)
The University of Pennsylvania Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing provides these additional citations of the phrase:
When I said.
A rose is a rose is a rose is a rose.
And then later made that into a ring I made poetry and what did I do I caressed completely caressed and addressed a noun.
“Poetry and Grammar,” Lectures in America (Boston: Beacon Press, 1985), p. 231.
Civilization begins with a rose. A rose is a rose is a rose is a rose. It continues with blooming and it fastens clearly upon excellent examples. (As Fine as Melanctha)
Lifting belly can please me because it is an occupation I enjoy.
Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose.
In print on top. (Bee Time Vine)
Now listen! I’m no fool. I know that in daily life we dont go around saying is a is a is a Yes, I’m no fool; but I think that in that line the rose is red for the first time in English poetry for a hundred years. (Four in America (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1947).
Mbizo CHIRASHA( Time of the Poet Republic Curator) Author of a Letter to the President. co-Authored Whispering Woes of Ganges and Zambezi. Co-Edited Street Voices Poetry Collection (Germany Africa Poetry Anthology). Co- Editor of the Corpses of Unity Anthology. Associate Editor at Diasporia(n) online. Chief Editor at Time of the Poet Republic. Founding Editor at WomaWords Literary Press. Publisher at Brave Voices Poetry journal. Curator at Africa Writers Caravan. UNESCO-RILA Affiliate Artist at University of Glasgow. 2020 Poet in Residence Fictional Café. 2019 African Fellow, IHRAF.ORG. Project Curator and Co-Editor of the Second Name of Earth is Peace (Poetry Voices Against WAR Anthology). Contributing Essayist to Monk Arts and Soul Magazine. Poetry and writtings appear in FemAsia Magazine ,Wrath -Bearing Tree, Inksweat andtears journal , One Ghana One Magazine, Ofi Press, World Poetry Almanac, Demer Press , Atunis Galaxy poetry online , IHRAF Publishes , The Poet a Day , Bezine.Com , Sentinel UK, Oxford School of Poetry Pamphlet , Africa Crayons, PulpitMagazine,Poetry Pacific, Zimbolicious , Best New Poets ,Poetry Bulawayo , Gramnet webjournal, Diogen Plus , Poeisis.si , Festival de Poesia Medellin and elsewhere .