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William Ford was the first person who really introduced me to.
Not so much reading poetry , as I’ve been doing that before but writing it and try connecting with him over the years , and over the decades with him as well. I went to Wichita State University and met various poets Bruce Cutler and my wife’s first husband and number 2 and went on to Bowling Green , Ohio for the MFA program there , Howard McCord so many poets have influenced me it’s Howard who introduced me to the fusion of history and poetry , probably more than anyone else . He introduced me to my and ink an Aztec story lines and I began to sort of figure out a way to reinterpret these then I somehow think that the palms that are grounded in some kind of historical event are are always more interesting if history is retold because it is history is always revised we’re not reading the history from a classical Greek perspective . It’s always something new and that’s what I sort of done with poetry . So whether it’s a Maya text call the show lumber Lamo Hume IL or the royal commentaries of of the the first sort of Spanish Inc text that tells about that ancient lives of the incomes .
So all those things interest me a lot and it’s developed something called improvisation or adaptation is a little bit like taking a bar of music and improvising then playing it and doing risks and things like that. It’s like jazz like jet . A lot of it and some of those earlier books of poetry our jazz pumps and I don’t know too much about , yes . Which is fine .
Is were telling us about your history and how you came to to poetry in these various people you’ve worked with and who’ve influenced you over time. Where did Vietnam fall in that chronology .
Well , I was hoping to be in a Methodist seminary , so it wasn’t planned at all , but I think what happened was one highways in Vietnam. I I was on artillery fire base and in sort of a bizarre desperate help for returning to my college days I signed up for extension class at the University of Kansas Lawrence and the syllabus was to read poetry and I said , do you mind if I write some .
And he said oh well go ahead and I wrote a long Palm call spirit of the bayonet fighter in Vietnam and worked on it afterwards and.
Running poetry while you were , you were unanswered well.
And Harper and row included it in one of their Vietnam anthologies and it was like , well that’s a good start. Harper enroll . I’m sure we will continue and it never has . It’s been a different route that I expected .
There is a section of this of this new book. That’s actually a travelogue and not really poetry at all . Can you share the story of of the trip to Lithuania and Poland and I I guess the and broader more broadly Eastern Europe that inspired us .
Yes , my wife and I joined an Al Grinnell College , by the way my wife is right here. Jacqueline Dr. Jacqueline Clinton we brought in , I thought you would enjoy the morning .
It’s a rare a rare treat to have a studio audience.
We , yes , we joined and Oliver now college Holocaust study class and after about 6 or 8 weeks of classes , we went on a tour of Lithuania and Poland. And we also got to Prague as well and to get to that stage . We did a lot of reading , after meeting while at our new synagogue . I began to take an interest in what he knew about the Holocaust and I had just been reading more and more and more of it , so that by the time we did get to Poland and walked through what was once the Warsaw ghetto . We saw the wall and walk through the the Jewish cemetery and then moved on to building and then moved on to Krakow and outside a cracker was Auschwitz-Birkenau and we were just overwhelmed and I think a lot of that came into the writing of poetry at the time I was reading and teaching the Dow ditching a Chinese classic and I began fusing some of the wisdom of Chinese literature of centuries ago with the images of walking through Birkenau . We were quite overwhelmed and a lot of it has come into my poetry .
This is your first published work first published book in quite some time and I guess I’m wondering if there’s a certain memory muscle memory of the the whole process that comes back to you.
I hadn’t planned on waiting so long my intention was to publish her 3rd book and a 4th , 5th , as I had the first and second one , though they were about 2 or 3 years apart , but I kept sending work out and the publishing world in poetry is fierce , and just because you send something into university or small press doesn’t mean that they responded in the way you hope they will a lesson from stoicism so I just took a little bit longer than I had ever imagined. But these palms are written for the most part while I was teaching at whitewater there some classroom palms there are problems that make reference to driving to work , where I met the messengers of job from the look of job , although they were cranes who had right driving along with me in the car .
Well DeWitt Clinton. I hope we can hear that poll now but first I want to say thank you so much for sharing your work with us .
It’s been wonderful to be here. I get a chance to practice , which I need a lot of this poem is entitled Jobs comfort as fly over Wisconsin and of course that never happened , but one reads job in Jewish tradition when one is a mourner and you sit on a very hard bench and you’re and one of the living room and try to be comforted by this very very sad story . And as I was driving on my way on the back roads from Milwaukee to Whitewater I would often find what are called trunk roads , which are not even state highways just back country roads and I’d be driving through forests and open prairies and sometimes cranes would fly above and I would just have to stop the car and get out and look so beautiful once driving across dry Husky cornfields 3 cranes which I saw take flight only seconds before I now eyeball to eyeball as they cross where I once was driving this autumn day on the way to lectures and papers a life I lead when not in the forest . The 3 quiet as fanned air glide by just above my new green focus were inside I begin babbling speaking in tongues as I’m so moved honored so close to Bill I and lace the filthy as to one manages to land in the passenger seat , the others argue who’s sitting on which side in the back , you got a problem kid the front seat passenger warns when the comforter is of job arrive I hardly expect all bug-eyed cranes but they’re better than more of those cellos and violins which usually take me across the fields into the town where I work , buddy .
The only one in the back fidgeting with the seatbelt buddy. He says he wanted a prayer circle . Right . This is us . Man , I’m still trying to figure out how they got in , but I’m glad they’re here wouldn’t want it any other way . The other one in the back just stares glad I suppose someone looked up and even smiled . It’s only then that I know why we’ve begun to go back to everything old we do it all love sex taxes , the budget Afghanistan the Pentagon H1N1 , even death . But the 4-seater is beginning to stink some , yeah I won’t ask them to leave . Every day we sort out more and more of what was left out . So very long ago I’ve even managed to stop picking at the lice when they take flight inside our little spot of misery .
Sherwood poet DeWitt Clinton reading his poem jobs comfort as fly over Wisconsin. It’s taken from his new collection at the end of the war . Read from it tomorrow night at Basel book company and you can find more information at WW . I am.com and that’s Thursday’s edition of the show I’m Audrey don’t ask and I mentioned Ike . Thank you so much for tuning in today and I hope you’ll be with us again tomorrow .