Tuesday, July 16, 2019

New Website — Romantic Writings & Gothic Poetry

It has been nine months since my last post.  However, my new website has been live for about a month and I already have four significant posts published with another one planned for next week.  Next week’s post is, not surprising to those who know my consuming passions, about a letter that John Keats wrote to his beloved Fanny Brawne 200 years ago in 1819.  The letter contains some of the most hauntingly beautiful passages ever written.  Perhaps my love for Keats’s life & writings is allowing a bit of hyperbole, but if you share my enthusiasm for literature and all things poetic, then you just might like some of my posts—two Keatsian posts are already up as well as one pertaining to Percy Bysshe Shelley and nightmares.

I meant to have this new website up a year ago, but moving to Europe last summer, then to England & Scotland for the fall & winter, disrupted much of my writing-related plans such as finishing my long poem from 2017, rewriting my not-even-close-to-being-finished novel, and reworking several medium-length poems that I feel somewhat satisfied with.  However, unexpected interruptions of old projects aside, this unexpected journey did indeed inspire quite a bit of new writing.  One such new piece in particular is a poem of Gothic fantasy written under the influence of despair & madness beneath a full moon at Whitby Abbey while I wandered alone long past midnight—I will never forget that night and I can still feel its cold influence.  The poem, somewhat medium-length at 15 stanzas and 150 lines, will be published in a small New York press later this year along with four other poems of mine.

My new website also contains a small handful of some of my previously published poetry.  Most of it leans rather heavy toward the dark side, but I plan on posting some lighter work later this year as well—my Tolkienesque poems of fairy-story especially.  So, to those who suffer profoundly from consuming ecstasies for all things Gothic, for writings ghostly & supernatural, for whisperings of madness, melancholy, and all beautiful seductions of Fantasy & Romanticism, then please visit my new website by clicking the appropriately chosen Böcklin painting below or the link directly beneath it:


Or just click on the link here:   https://www.clayfjohnson.com/

Or, to go directly to my Poetry page, please click here:  https://www.clayfjohnson.com/poetry

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Keats’s Letter to Richard Woodhouse, October 27, 1818

Anyone who has read this neglected Blog (a miserable seven posts since 2016!) or follows me on my seemingly better-loved Twitter account will know that I adore the life & writings of John Keats.  I won’t call it an obsession—I have enough of those!—for it makes me sound psychotic or like some knee-crooking fanboy, and Keats deserves better than that.  No, but perhaps it’s that I understand him, that I feel a sort of knowing yet unconscious sensitivity to his writing that I share with none other—and though this understanding and sensitivity fills the emptiness in my life with beauty, it too haunts that same emptiness with mystery and melancholy.

For me, and for many others, Keats’s letters are as poetical and fascinating as his poetry.  T.S. Eliot called his letters “the most notable and the most important ever written by any English poet.”  Although my unflinching and unapologetic bias agrees wholeheartedly with Eliot, I don’t think it’s that extreme of a statement when one considers Keats’s age when he wrote them—it seems many people forget that Keats died at only 25 years old, while the most beautiful and mysterious of his letters and poetry were written years before that.  My letters & emails written during my early twenties are the “most unpoetical of anything in existence” (and I mean this in a bad way!) and deserve a far more torturous fate than simply being burned or deleted.  Unfortunately and fortunately for me, my so called enlightenment occurred in my mid-twenties and most of my writings before that were logical and unimaginative nonsense.  Sure, I knew of poetry and literature during that time of my life, but I simply had different interests and goals then, and my Muse was not yet whispering as much to me then, and Her loving stranglehold had not yet brought me to my knees…

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Horror Writers Association's Poetry Showcase Volume IV

This post is shamefully ten months overdue.  However, in my defense, ten months ago I was helplessly self-absorbed in writing a long poem that, at the time, was my greatest obsession—from March until July it occupied almost every passing thought.  Even more bizarrely this uncontrollable obsession was plaguing my dreams and causing me writer nightmares, which mainly consisted of reoccurring visions of being full of interesting ideas yet having nothing to write them down on.  I believe these nightmares stemmed mostly from occasions at the library with my old and tired laptop and not securing a table near an electrical outlet, which would cause me almost maniacal anxiety—I would literally sweat with rage when people would sit at one and have hours-long conversation about the most trifling of petulant knavery and peasant-affairs.

Anyway, before I digress about something else such as the selfish creativity of poetic self-absorption or perhaps an even longer tirade about how my obsession last year was all for naught for no proper publishing house will ever want such fantasy verse, let me get to the point of this little blog post’s raison d'être:  my publication in the Horror Writers Association’s Poetry Showcase Volume IV.  Among my meager four publications last year, this poem, titled “My Little Green Secret”, was by far the most important and dearest to my heart—not only because it was selected among the Top 3 of all submissions which included making the cover of the anthology that published my first poem just a year prior, but also because I actually enjoyed writing it.  Sometimes poetry does not come “as naturally as the Leaves to a tree”[1] and can be rather painful to work out.  Other times it can be a little too ethereal and esoteric for some (even for myself!) and have no real meaning other than whatever mysterious thoughts were passing through my mind at the time—this is not always a bad thing since proper poetry is oftentimes born from this random brooding and musing, but sometimes—just sometimes—my strangeness can be a bit much.  And because of this strangeness that creeps into my writing every now and then, combined with other reasons and inspirations (mainly from rereading Tolkien), last year I began writing more narrative poetry which, as the term implies, aims to tell an actual story complete with a clear beginning, middle, and end.  I like to believe that with this poem, and in just 35 lines, I was able to capture this sort of story-telling quality with at least a somewhat clear beginning, middle, and unquestionably disturbing end, and for that I am somewhat satisfied.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Weirdbook — First Annual Witches Issue

I meant to post this many months ago, but last year turned out to be rather difficult and all of my free time was spent pursuing other endeavors.  One of my many new year’s resolutions—the most important is to finish my long poem, thus completing my book—is to write more Blog posts, which includes existential inspirations, publication updates, art- and literature-related musings, and travel stories both new and old—adventures in Switzerland and Italy being foremost in my mind.

With that being said, I am once again pleased to announce the publication of two new poems, both of which were published last year in Weirdbook edited by Douglas Draa.  Although I was already honored to be included in this fine and well-known publication, I later found out that Stephen King’s Cthulhu Mythos short story “Gramma” was first published in Weirdbook in 1984, which made these publications even more thrilling.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Spectral Realms ― "Ghosts of 1816"

I am, yet again, unnaturally excited to announce that one of my poems, “Ghosts of 1816”, was recently published in Spectral Realms (Hippocampus Press) edited by S.T. Joshi.  This particular poem holds a rather special place in my heart for it was inspired by a long-held obsession of mine:  Frankenstein and the “Haunted Summer” of 1816.  Mary Shelley’s deliciously Gothic novel and the supposed laudanum- and ghost-story-induced madness that took place within the opulent walls of the Villa Diodati during that year without a summer has long fascinated me and piqued my imagination with bizarre and nightmarish visionsit was only a matter of time before I would paint the malefic shadows of my imagination within a poem.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Amongst the Paris Dead: Oscar Wilde and Frédéric Chopin

I began writing this on the eve of a birth, followed the next day by a death, both of which occurred in the middle of the 19th century.  Given the title of this little piece it’s not too difficult to discern that I mean Oscar Wilde, born October 16, 1854, and Frédéric Chopin, died October 17, 1849.  Both of these ghosts, friends as I call them, haunt me almost every day of my lifeone with brilliant words, the other with melancholy music.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

HWA's Poetry Showcase Volume III

I am unnaturally excited to announce that my poem “She Walks in Moonlight” has been published in HWA’s Poetry Showcase Volume III and is now available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle/electronic format.  It is a great honor for me to be included amongst such great poets as Bruce Boston, Corrine De Winter, Alessandro Manzetti, and many others.  Link to the anthology below.