I’ll kick off the BCPaW “Poet a Day” celebration of national Poetry Month by introducing you to my own favorite poet (and old friend) David Clewell. Here’s what past Poet Laureate Billy Collins had to say about David’s work:
“David Clewell is an exuberant, inexhaustible poet and an insider on such diverse American arcana as forgotten Hollywood actors, flying saucers, CIA shenanigans, comic books, cereal favors, beatnik kitsch, and jazz. His unstoppable narrative energy and his multi-layered curiosity are almost enough to drive this poet out to the far right side of the page. His elegy for a federal agent who jumped out a window on LSD is alone worth the price of this collection of Clewell at his best, his most Clewellian.”
Here’s my own review of his book The Low End of Higher Things, as posted on Amazon.com:
Real Poems for Real People, April 24, 2003
By Chris J. Tannlund (Lamar, Missouri United States)
No poet on Earth explores, reveals and revels in the big and small wonders of being human quite so compellingly as David Clewell. Not only is he a master poet, he is a profoundly humane human being, a man not afraid to feel deeply, to fall head-over-heels in love with real life in all its pop-cultural, kitschy glory, and to publicly share that love in language so infectious, personal and just plain F-U-N that your heart has little choice but to dance exuberantly along…
Yes, David’s poems reference flying saucers, L.S.D, conspiracy theories and H.G. Wells… But that’s not why you should read him. Read these poems because you care about language as art. Read these poems because you care about Humanity, about exploring and celebrating good, old fashioned earthy humanness, in all its strange-familiar guises. Read these poems to be reminded where life’s pleasure most purely resides – in the fine details of every moment, in the hands and faces and quirky behavior of the people closest to us, in the syncopated rhythm of two hearts pressed together in the spooning embrace of sleep.
As Robin Williams phrased it in the film “Dead Poets Society”:
“We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is full of passion. Medicine, law, business, engineering; these are noble pursuits necessary to sustain life, but poetry, beauty, romance, love… These are what we stay alive for…”
David Clewell “gets it.” This is real poetry for real people. So, buy the book already, okay?
BIO: David Clewell is the author of six poetry collections, including Blessings in Disguise, a winner in the National Poetry Series, and Now We’re Getting Somewhere, 1994 winner of the Felix Pollak Prize in Poetry. Clewell teaches writing and literature at Webster University in St. Louis.
Now We’re Getting Somewhere reviewed by the University of Wisconsin Press.
Words That Matter: David Clewell interviewed in Playback: St. Louis Magazine.
Jack Ruby’s America – Text, plus audio files available for free download in .wav format
Vegetarian Physics (live reading in MP3 audio format)
A Brief History of the Moon in 20th Century Song and Then Some (live reading in MP3 audio format)
The Collector (live reading in MP3 audio format)
Desperate Measures (live reading in MP3 audio format)