A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Clive Gresswell

Q1: When did you start writing and whom influenced you the most now and currently?

Clive: I write mainly poetry but also short stories. I went through a very creative period in my early twenties when I was heavily influenced by Samuel Beckett, Albert Camus, Freud, Richard Brautigan, ee cummings, and Leonard Cohen and Charles Bukowski. I worked as a journalist for 30 years but took redundancy at 50 and went to university where I studied the Marxist/Anarchist poet Sean Bonney.

Q2: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer?

Clive: I’m 64 now and have been re enthused by modernist poets such as Sean, Tom Raworth, Doug Jones and Adrianne Clarke. I owe a great learning debt to the London group of experimental poets Writer’s Forum.

Q3: Who has helped you most with writing and career?

Clive: Too many people really but two in particular. An English teacher at my secondary modern school, Ian Bell, who introduced me to offbeat writers such as Brautigan and my university tutors, particularly my Master’s Supervisor Keith Jebb, himself a London poet.

Q4: Where did you grow up and how did that influence you? Have any travels away from home influence your work?

Clive: I grew up in Ruislip and was always terrible at football and other manly pursuits but even as a youngster I read and wrote poetry, but sort of stopped in my journalist years only to rediscover it at uni.

Q5: What do you consider your most meaningful work creatively to you?

Clive: It is yet to be published in full but is a 16,000-word prose poem called ‘Shadow Reel’ which has had sections published in Otoliths and Blackbox Manifold. I attach part of it if you want to use some.

Q6: Favorite activities to relax?

Clive: Listening to rock music, writing and reading. I am a great Bob Dylan and Frank Zappa fan – I think they are both genuine geniuses.

Q7: What is a favorite line/ stanza/lyric from your writing?

Clive: An irony of unemployed/walk into the bar

Q8: What kind of music inspires you the most? What is a song or songs that come back to you as an inspiration?

Clive: Dylan has just been an almost lifelong inspiration to me. Then again I also appreciate Rod Stewart. Sad Eyed Lady of The Lowlands comes to mind. There’s the constant debate over whether or not Dylan is a poet – I think songs like that settle the argument. Also Visions of Johanna.

Q9: Do you have any recent or upcoming books, music, events, projects that you’d like to promote?

Clive: My most recent books are three chapbooks with erbacce press ‘Strings’ ‘Atoms’ and ‘Spaces’ all of which have had good reviews in Tears in The Fence and Litter.

Bonus Question: : Any funny memory or strange occurrence you’d like to share during your creative journey?

Clive: When I was about 19 I wrote a short story about talking and violent furniture and sent it to Ambit but it was rejected which put me off sending stuff out for ages. A few months ago I wrote it up again and it was used by Cafelit and put in their ‘best of’ book.


More Poetry Inspired by Leonard Cohen from R.G. Evans & Clive Gresswell

Poetry Showcase: Poems DNA by Clive Gresswell

Hard Rain Poetry: Forever Dylan Anthology available today!

@gresswellclive on twitter


Poetry Showcase: Poems DNA by Clive Gresswell

From Erbacce Press


Clive Gresswell is a 64-year-old innovative writer and poet who has appeared in many mags from BlazeVOX to Poetry Wars and Tears in the Fence. He is the author of five poetry books the last two being ‘Strings’ and ‘Atoms’ from erbacce-press (see their website for more details).

DNA etc

from the opening
the red bud/this stinking corruption
drawn into the life before
drawn into the death before
the mouth moves silently as
he questions how those sub-atomic
particles can grasp what was said
in the beginning and scheduled
thru the chromosomes as if wired
to capture the plasticity/this combination
this horror show that freezes the breath

naked to the accordion blasts & the inclination
to grow and grow and claw its fetid muscle
cramped in an unworkable spasm ripped
forward from the tongue and its hue and cry
deep into the animal instinct captured
and regenerated through the queer
curiosity of time & space

its talons grown cold in gripping
the perfect neurons which fell like
snow into distillations of a worldwide DNA
fluttering like the intrinsic eye howling
by the borderline where time and tide betray.


new horizons stick in throats of silver platitudes
to roaming gypsy hoards and their impolite tongue
snaked and roughed with the background accordion
the flair from witness witches into soft harbingers

dressed in almighty rags and sentenced with long-jowls 
martyred in their fading opinions rested at the junction
to which a symphony plays regretful tunes of tiger-moths
and hotel rooms or hostels for the first-born
whose mothers’ wailing is now torn on the agony
and ecstasy the deliberate throbbing of the vowels

leapt forth in antique matrimony slithered from vows
the hissing and green ink scrawled across this black
and white graffiti blessed in memory of frivolous clouds
and the ancient merchants of their entire misery cast

the fruitful birds which rest
complete in the region where
cutting circular gesticulations
morbid on the mind and cast
along the centrifugal force

shattered by society’s flattering
insipid dreamlike vestiges
cut-free from wandering chance
& loosened to the tongue a final
baying by the wolves of fate
beyond castigations of forever verbs
                                    & into their annals ripped by ropes of despair