Episode 72 with Precise and Impassioned Poet, Creative, Radio Host, Teacher, and Founder of Southern Collective Experience, Clifford Brooks


Show Notes and Links to Clifford Brooks’s Work and Allusions/Texts from Episode 72 


      On Episode 72, Pete welcomes Clifford Brooks, poet supreme, passionate creative, and founder of Southern Collective Experience, which publishes the fabulous journal of culture, Blue Mountain Review. They talk about Cliff’s idyllic childhood of curiosity and wonder, his faith in continuing to channel this wonder and passion into his work, his coming relatively late into poetry, music and its inspiration for his writing, resonant lines, myth as a muse, consistent themes in his work, and much more. 


         Clifford Brooks was born in Athens, Georgia. His first poetry collection, The Draw of Broken Eyes & Whirling Metaphysic, was re-issued by Southern Collective Experience in August 2018. His second full-length poetry volume, Athena Departs: Gospel of a Man Apart, as well as a limited-edition poetry chapbook, Exiles of Eden, were published by Southern Collective Experience in 2017. Clifford is the founder of The Southern Collective Experience, a cooperative of writers, musicians and visual artists, which publishes the journal of culture The Blue Mountain Review and hosts the NPR show Dante’s Old South. He is on the faculty of The Company of Writers, and provides tutorials on poetry through the Noetic teaching application.

Clifford Brooks' Website


The Southern Collective Experience Website


Buy The Draw of Broken Eyes & Whirling Metaphysics


"A Bookshop Interview with Clifford Brooks"




Dante's Old South NPR Radio Show on Spotify




At about 1:45, Clifford Brooks talks about the methods in which his work has been published-re: rights, second edition, etc.


At about 3:30, Cliff talks about his childhood relationship with reading and the written word and how he was encouraged to explore his curiosity


At about 7:00, Cliff talks about the power and importance of play in his childhood, being on the autism spectrum


At about 8:40, Cliff talks about the connections between the playful, curious, imaginative kid and his creative power as an adult poet


At about 10:40, Cliff talks about writers who have given, and continue to give, “chills at will,” like Pinsky, Kelli Russell Agodon, Chen Chen, Langston Hughes, Louise Gluck, and Dante, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and Rilke; Cliff expands on Rilke’s pull


At about 14:20, Cliff talks about the outsized pull of music in his life, including its effect on him becoming a poet; Pete shouts out three music recs he received and loved from Cliff’s show, Dante’s Old South Radio Show-Cutso, Lyrics Born, and Turkuaz


At about 17:40, Cliff and Pete discuss the mythological “Easter eggs” in Cliff’s work, as well as references of “haunting” with Robert Johnson and connections to addiction and “Old Scratch”


At about 21:25, Pete asks Cliff to tell the audience about his “ ‘Eureka’ moment” that impelled him to continue writing, as well as how an agent pointed Cliff to poetry over the other genres


At about 30:45, Cliff talks about the difference between imitation and inspiration and his early days “learning to write” poetry after having written other styles


At about 32:45, Cliff talks about the importance of truth in poetry and how seriously he takes it in his own writing


At about 35:00, Cliff details his editing process and it being essential for him and creating connections; Pete follows up with a questions about the connection between catharsis and editing


At about 37:00, Clifford denies the importance of “decoding poetry” and trumpets the power of subjectivity 


At about 39:30, Cliff discusses purpose in his poem, as epitomized by a Jericho Brown quote


At about 41:40, Pete outlines some thematic and stylistic “throughlines” in Cliff’s poetry, including passion and wanderlust, which leads Cliff to talk about the seeking of travel, both literal and metaphorical


At about 43:30, Pete asks Cliff about the Nietzche epigraph


At about 45:50, Cliff and Pete agree on the connectivity that paradoxically comes with solitude and the quiet of writing poetry


At about 47:00, Clifford talks about the magic of the twilight hours and his kinship with past guest of both Cliff and Pete, standout prose poet José Hernández Diaz 


At about 48:40, Pete identifies the poem “In the Beginning” and some resonant lines  


At about 50:35, Pete and Cliff discuss abandonment/restlessness through a poem that references Alice in Wonderland  


At about 53:15, Cliff touches on themes like moderation from “The Transparent Mess of an Unbalanced Man”


At about 54:10, “A Father Sits with a Son” brings about resonant lines and discussion of “Live and Let Live” and beautiful “moments in time” with his father


At about 55:55, “The Last Wispy Gypsy” provides a thrill-inducing line


At about 56:30, Cliff references Kid Cudi in talking about “night terrors” and “childlike quality” in his work


At about 58:30, Pete quotes some of Cliff’s work as the two discuss regret and the temporal nature of happiness as a consistent theme in Cliff’s work


At about 59:55, Pete and Cliff add to their playlist of songs that correspond to the poetry’s subject matter, including “Everlong”


At about 1:00:30, Cliff and Pete discuss amicable breakups “with no malice” and the consequences of life decisions like starting a family, etc.


At about 1:03:00, Pete quotes the “Scotch, Scuffles, and Sermons” and a “musical” line from the piece that leads into discussions of spirituality and the connection between spirit and flesh


At about 1:08:00, Cliff dissects some of his “methodical, but not contrived” rhymes and syntax that work to enhance the ethereal quality of the words


At about 1:10:50, Cliff talks about mythology and its connection to his inspirations


At about 1:12:55, Cliff introduces and reads from “The Original Title Failed Me”


At about 1:17:15, Cliff introduces and reads from “Colors of Parish, Sex, and Essence” 


At about 1:19:30, Cliff gives some info on his myriad projects, including the fabulous Blue Mountain Review and contact info


At about 1:22:20, Cliff talks about upcoming projects, including fiction and poetry publications

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