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69 gaess Roger Gaess An Interview with D. L. Klauck ROGER GAESS: Did you begin writing in prison? D. L. KLAUCK: Yeah, I began about two years after I was incarcerated . I wrote my first poem in November of 1972, and it was atrocious. It was a five-page, crying thing about: look how they're mistreating me, these people are so cruel to me and I'm an innocent victim of society's injustice, and all that; but it got published by one of the lousy mimeograph magaznes. RG: How did you submit to that particular little magazine? Did you use the International Directory of Little Magazines & Small Presses or anything? DK: Yeah, I got my first copy of it from Mary MacArthur. She was running a magazine at that time out in California, Gallimaufry, which I had come across from another inmate, and I sent some poems to her and she rejected me but she sent back a copy of Len Fulton's directory, and from there I started submitting like an idiot. I selected magazines on the basis of their title when I first started. Something that sounded good and impressive. And so I started submitting to all these magazines day after day after day, and must have gotten accepted by twenty of them, but then they started getting published and catching up to me, and each one was lousy. Now I've learned to be more selective about where my work appears. It's an egotistical thing. You can read mimeograph just as good as you can anything else. RG: Did you have much familiarity with poetry at that time? DK: I had virtually none. I grew up in the kind of neighborhood where if you were caught with a book of poetry under your arm, you got beat up. RG: So did I . . . poetry and dancing. DK: The only exposure to poetry I had was that boring garbage that they teach you in high school . . . that they make you read. I remember in seventh grade struggling through "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner." I didn't want to read it. I had to read it in order to pass seventh grade English, and I remember I used to have to go in early in the morning with the teacher and sit down and he'd explain to me what it was.That wasn't the kind of introduction to poetry that I needed. I had the idea that 70 the minnesota review poetry was vague and that only mostly sissies and women read it. Hell, at that time, when I was young, I was a gangster ... I belonged to a street gang and all that ... no way at all could I relate to poetry or anything in literature really. What inspired me to write poetry was they had a book by Charles Bukowski in the library, and I read his stuff and said, hey, this guy isn't a sissy; this guy's for real. I figured I can do this too ... I have a way with words. I think that I'd always had some kind ofan ability with words but I never realized it. I always did good in school with writing. I wrote a lot of letters. When I started getting into poetry, the first thing I wrote I showed the other guys in there, and it was primarily about the prison and they could relate to it, and they thought it was good and that was encouragement for me to go on, and I sent it out to a couple of girls that I knew and they said they cried when they read it and that was more inspiration . . . hey, I can make somebody cry, that's terrific. I started going from there. I got a lot of attention down at Western [State Penitentiary, in Pittsburgh] when I first started writing. There are a lot of universities down there, and then at that particular time — back in the early part of the seventies — the prison movement was big. Everyone wants to have their own personal convict, so I became the personal convict of many, many people. RG: What about the macho thing...


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