Glens Falls, NY
Prof to Publish Glens Falls Poems
Cleary is an English professor in Florida, but his first book
of poems, due out this Fall, is called Hometown, USA.
not as surprising as it might sound. Cleary’s collection
of poems chronicles the post-war Glens Falls which he experienced
growing up here.
earned publication of his book by winning an annual competition,
the American Book Series Award. “Poetry’s hard to
get published; it’s very competitive,” he comments.
His work was one in a field of over 600 submissions. Publisher
will be San Diego Poets Press.
1963 graduate of S. Mary’s Academy, Cleary was better known
as a “jock” than a scholar, playing quarterback on
the school’s first undefeated football team. When he won
first place in the Glens Falls Writers’ Club fiction competition,
he laughs that people were surprised “that I might have
a brain in my head.”
book, punctuated with photos from LOOK Magazine’s
1944 “Hometown, USA” series, offers glimpses into
Glens Falls past and present. Memories of skating on Crandall
Pond, the overpowering nostalgia of his St. Mary’s 25th
class reunion, and a vision of men harvesting ice on Hovey’s
Pond share the pages with loggers and childhood friends.
cover will feature Shirley Patton’s nostalgic painting of
conjunction with publication, he plans a reading on November 10
at the Hyde Collection. Cleary feels people will enjoy his work,
commenting that “it’s more accessible than what people
are used to” in the poetry field.
his poem, “Class Reunion,” Cleary describes the bittersweet
renewal of old friendships:
Even the best of us
have a bone to pick
with the ghost of days gone by.
Familiar stories mingle with new lies.
Former lovers blush,
barely touch, smiles aching
with betrayal and regret.
Although Cleary says he came to poetry “rather late,”
he has had success publishing individual poems in literary journals.
He says it was especially gratifying last year when one of his
poems made it into an anthology used at the college level, Literature:
The Human Experience (St. Martin’s Press). “It’s
a first for somebody without a book,” he says, noting his
work will now appear alongside that of Hemingway, Shakespeare
from other writers at conferences and winning the Florida Arts
Council Grant for Poetry two years ago prompted Cleary to persevere
with his writing. “It gave me the sense that I was competing
well,” he explains.
for his next project, it will probably just “slowly evolve,”
he feels. In the meantime, he says, “I hope the book will
find some success.”