How Clive Matson’s “Squish Boots” was placed in the coffin of his mentor, John Wieners

CLIVE MATSON (MFA Columbia University) has published poetry since 1964, and says the most interesting thing he’s done lately is help edit the anthology of 9/11 poems AN EYE FOR AN EYE MAKES THE WHOLE WORLD BLIND (Regent Press, Oakland, 2002). Mostly he writes from the itch in his body. He has taught more than 2,000 workshops nationwide, and his how-to-write-text LET THE CRAZY CHILD WRITE! (New World Library, 1998), honoring the creative unconscious, is being used by a number of groups around the world.

To read about what I last wrote about Clive on Riehlife and his effect on my life and work, please click here.

Clive’s latest chapbook “Chalcedony’s First Ten Songs” has arrived, and I trust we’ll be able to chat with Clive about that book later.

His seventh book, SQUISH BOOTS (Broken Shadow, Oakland, 2002), was placed, amazingly, in the coffin of his mentor, John Wieners. “Delightful and penetrating at the same time, these poems are a revelation,” comments Susan Griffin. Matson lives and works in Oakland, California. Here’s the story, in Clive’s own words. –JGR


Clive Matson by Trudy Fisher 2004

When I finally got around to sending out complimentary copies of my latest book, SQUISH BOOTS (Broken Shadow, Oakland, 2002), I inscribed one for John Wieners “with such deep admiration all these years.” But I couldn’t put my hand on his address, so I sent it to Charley Shively, who was a sidekick for much of John’s later life.

The book arrived the week John died. Charley knew, as well as anyone, that John wanted to go to the next world with a book in his hands. He also had at least an intuitive knowledge of the connection between John and me, and he placed SQUISH BOOTS in John’s casket, “in case John woke up and wanted something to read.” The student’s work was buried with the
distant master. This fact, with its inference that I might somehow be worthy of Wieners’ attention in eternity, filled me with eerie astonishment — a feeling that lingers weeks later

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