Monday, December 9, 2013

Michigander Monday: Patricia Clark

I'm pleased to welcome Patricia Clark to Michigander Monday!

Debbie:  Patricia, please tell us a little about yourself.

Patricia:  I've been in Michigan nearly 25 years -- but my roots are in Washington State where I grew up. How did I come to be here? Well, it's all about finding a job when you're a creative writer. I'd left home to go to University of Montana to get an MFA in poetry; and then left for Houston, Texas to get a Ph.D. at the University of Houston. Somehow after that I found myself in Tennessee. But I went on the job market, applied for a job in Western Michigan -- at Grand Valley State University -- and that's where I've ended up. What an adventure! And Michigan is about as watery a state as Washington is, so I feel as though I fit in. Just no saltwater and no mountains.

Debbie:  And, of course, we want to know all about your books.

Patricia:  I've now published four books of poetry, most recently Sunday Rising, which just came out this year. It was published by Michigan State University Press. I feel lucky to have found such a good publisher who really cares about attractive books. Sunday Rising describes my own spiritual journey of the last few years but I call it spiritual with an attitude. I mean to include a little bit of "uprising" in the "rising" part of the title. It's not easy to come into your own and describe your own beliefs. I feel as though I've struggled to do that here.

Plus these are personal poems. Here's what I told the publisher:

"The center that holds here—and it is consistent from the first poem to the last—is Patricia Clark’s intimate relationship with the physical world and her beliefs about what that world can hold for us: what it teaches, consoles, speaks of, and resonates toward. No footsteps are left here to follow in; instead, there is a suggestion of spiritual practice in seeing as well as in taking note. 'Left what we felt / at what we saw' is a line from Wallace Stevens’ poem 'A Postcard from the Volcano.' The poems of Sunday Rising are such 'leavings': wrought, careful, and mined for their resonance, whether jewels or ore, art or something to throw away. There is a sifting, separating the valuable from the dross; the significant moment. Where will the eye land? One joins the writer in her journeys where spiritual exuberance along with suffering becomes a transformative way of shaping and remembering the experience of living in the world."

Debbie:  Other books or projects on the horizon?

Patricia:  Oh sure, (laughter) there is always another book or project on the horizon. I'm working on a fifth book of poetry -- I don't have a title yet or a theme. Stay tuned! It'll be interesting.

Debbie:  Upcoming appearances?

Patricia:  Yes, I've been giving some readings in connection with a new poetry anthology, Poetry in Michigan in Poetry. It's a beautiful book and an excellent one at capturing some words celebrating Michigan; also good at capturing visual art. I'll be reading in in East Grand Rapids on Dec 11.  [For event details, contact Patricia.]

Debbie:  Do you have a favorite Michigan bookstore? And/or a favorite Michigan library?

Patricia:  My fav Michigan bookstore is Schuler Books in Grand Rapids -- both locations are great: 28th Street and also Alpine Avenue. It's a great place for books, music, lunch, and readings. My favorite library is our new campus library at GVSU, the Mary Idema Pew Learning Commons. It's gorgeous! There's a huge fireplace upstairs. I believe there are 28 different kinds of seating for library patrons.

Debbie:  How about a favorite place in Michigan?

Patricia:  How can I choose 1 favorite place in Michigan? Well, I really love Grand Marais up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. That's a pretty cool, secluded place to go. I also love Traverse City and Suttons Bay.

Debbie:  Do you have a Michigan event or happening that you love to attend?

Patricia:  A Michigan event to attend? I love GVSU's Poetry Night which takes place every October, 1 night, and usually features two poets. This year we featured Pattiann Rogers and Li-Young Lee. Again, people could email me: next year it will be Thurs night October 16th. We'll have two wonderful poets and it's a free event with a wonderful reception following the readings.

I also love the Kerrytown Book Festival in Ann Arbor, September each year. That's always fun.

Debbie:  A few fun Michigan people we should all know about?

Patricia:  I think immediately of Michigan painters like Stephen Duren, sculptor Elona Van Gent, or Norwood Viviano. Then writers like Caitlin Horrocks, doing fiction, and teaching for us at GVSU. And musicians like Arthur Campbell who plays a wicked clarinet, his wife Helen Marlais who is a great pianist and also a great teacher of piano teachers. The arts keep us alive, vibrant, and challenged!

Debbie:  Something you'd like a non-Michigander to know about Michigan?

Patricia:  We're not just a Midwest state to fly over. C'mon people! The Great Lakes are huge freshwater seas. Come see them! We have beautiful sandy beaches and culture too.

Debbie:  Last question.  Some folks in Michigan refer to themselves as Michiganders, others as Michiganians. For our ongoing vote tally: are you a Michigander or a Michiganian?

Patricia:  I vote for Michigander. I really don't know which is correct, or if there is a correct name, but I like the tang of the "gander" part of the word. Lighten up, folks, maybe we can fly a little like the Canada geese who honk by overhead.

Debbie:  Michigander it is!  We'll add you to the tally.  Patricia, thank you so much for being here today for Michigander Monday!

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