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HALFWAY DECENT SINNERS
HOMETOWN, USA
BEARABLE WEIGHT
HALFWAY
DECENT
SINNERS
BY
MICHAEL
CLEARY

HOMETOWN, USA
BY
MICHAEL
CLEARY

BEARABLE
WEIGHT
BY
MICHAEL
CLEARY

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MICHAEL CLEARY BIOGRAPHY

Born in 1945, I grew up in a family of 5 children in Glens Falls, NY, in the Adirondacks, a city profiled in LOOK Magazine’s 1944 series, “Hometown, USA” which depicted a “typical” hometown of returning WW II GI’s. First of my family to attend college, I taught high school English before earning my doctorate in Tennessee and joining the English faculty at Broward College, an open door institution in Fort Lauderdale, FL. I’ve been awarded an Endowed Teaching Chair for classroom excellence, teaching students from remedial to honors level while specializing in American Literature, Creative Writing, and Film.

I began to publish with essays on 20th C. writers
such as Edward Albee, Thomas Berger, Harold Pinter,
and Flannery O’Connor. When I tried my hand at poetry some 20 years ago, my third poem was accepted by The Texas Review—a pure case of dumb luck. Since then, my work has appeared widely in journals as well as 3 college anthologies. I’m a two-time recipient of a $5,000 Florida Arts Grant in Poetry (1986 and 1999) and a Featured Lecturer for the National Endowment for the Humanities (on the classic American Western, Shane). As winner of the Paumanok Poetry Award, in November 2006 I was visiting writer at Farmingdale State University of New York, adding my who-the-hell-is-he? name to a prestigious list that includes Galway Kinnell, Joyce Carol Oates, Allen Ginsberg, W.S. Merwin.

My book, Hometown, USA, was published as 1992
winner of The American Book Series Award by San
Diego Poets Press. My second collection, Halfway Decent Sinners, appeared in 2006 from CW Books.

I live in Fort Lauderdale with my wife, Carol, who shares my passion for demolition salvage sales as we renovate our 1950s cottage near the beach.

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ARTICLES AND INTERVIEWS

Halfway Decent Sinners

Poetry Compilations Can Often Come from Local Streets

 

Hometown, USA

Hometown Poet

Prize-Winning Poet Uses Writing to Sing
Work earns $5,000 Grant from Florida


Hometown Redux: Poet Revisits Glens Falls

Florida Prof to Publish Glens Falls Poems

Throng Attends Michael Cleary Reading at the Hyde

Tomahawks Bested by Kerry Blues in Conference Game

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REVIEWS AND BLURBS

Bearable Weight

The “bearable weight” of Michael Cleary’s title is mortality, he tells us in his poem, “Carnal.” That phrase almost perfectly characterizes the tones and attitudes of this striking collection. Rueful, grateful, regretful, and joyful by turns—and sometimes all at once—these lines reconcile the sorrows and pleasures of a whole lifetime, as well as capturing vivid personalities like Tooter O’Heany, Retread Williams, and Sister Lard Ass with a few telling strokes. Only a poet with a love of hard-won experience could say it:
            I wonder if any such as me ever made it
            all the way over there from where I’ve come.
Only a poet with such love could mean it.

—Fred Chappell

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Halfway Decent Sinners

Michael Cleary’s welcome second book continues his eloquent exploration of our flawed human condition. Vividly colored by his Catholic upbringing, these poems look with both passion and compassion at childhood, family, marriage, divorce, work and play. They form a hymn of praise for the flowers of life and love, despite (or perhaps because of) the serpent lurking in every garden.

—Peter Meinke

Halfway Decent Sinners. The title says it all—these deeply felt poems focus on the contradictory mixture of pleasure and guilt that make us human. Cleary acknowledges and celebrates our humanity in all its forms—the vulnerability of both the flesh and the spirit. He’s a natural storyteller with a twinkle in his eye, full of good humor and good will. The cast of characters that inhabit these poems are lively and memorable. Their complex human desires and frailties constantly butt up against the rigid structures of organized religion. While this rich, varied collection contains everything from the sacred to the profane, Cleary, like our best poets, has a definite fondness for the sacredly profane.

—Jim Daniels

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Hometown, USA

In 1944 LOOK Magazine published a series of articles about Glens Falls, New York. There they claimed to find the heart of America. Michael Cleary, a native of that town, finds a different America entirely, a more personal one, gritty and believable. And he sets down what he finds in poetry that is heartfelt, plainspoken, evocative, and engaging. Hometown, USA, is a wonderful book.

—Fred Chappell

These poems remind us with a start how quickly it all goes by: the slick surface of the American Dream turning slowly to the salt echo of an old and necessary melody. Cleary knows what all true elegiac poets know: that the one thing necessary in this life seems to be to stop and rest in the lingering afternoon of the mystery to light a candle for a world itself become a shadow.

—Paul Mariani

Michael Cleary’s first book looks back on his family and country with a gentle but passionate eye: gentle because these people and places are recreated lovingly: passionate because they are shown truthfully, and in depth. Hometown, USA is a moving and lyrical debut of a fine poet.

—Peter Meinke

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REQUEST REVIEW COPIES

Michael Cleary's Publisher:

CW Books
PO Box 541106
Cincinnati OH 45254-1106

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