December 1, 2020

Giving Poetry A Try ~Part 1

Clyde McCulley

My former training was in the visual arts. I was a college studio art professor for the first part of my career, then spent the last twenty years as the director of an art school.


I retired in early 2000 and my wife and I purchased a weekly summer cottage rental on Grand Manan Island in Canada and ran it for ten years. Then due to health problems we were forced to settle down from our second retirement, making Portland Maine our home.


My grown daughters had been asking me for years to write the stories that I had told them when they were kids about my growing up in the woods of Arkansas. I decided that I would, so in 2015, I wrote a memoir of my early childhood.   The book, “The Boy on Shady Grove Road” began my new career of attempting to be a writer.


Since that first book, I have written a series of books for middle graders about three kids growing up in the Appalachian Mountains during the 1950s, “Panther Creek Mountain.”


The series are wholesome books about kids learning the essentials of life while living without electricity and running water in their house, yet having many great adventures, much as I had done when I was a kid in Arkansas.


During the last few years, I have continued writing, as well as starting a podcast about memories of the “good old days’ and I have spent a lot of time reading.


This past spring when the Pandemic hit, my wife and I, like so many others, felt the need to cloister in our home to prevent illness. I will turn eighty in March. I have been diagnosed with Pulmonary Fibrosis, a lung disease so I must be very careful.


One day while sitting on our deck I was looking at the sky. It was a cerulean blue with a few spotty clouds. I saw a seagull flying above and watched as it caught an updraft of wind. I watched until it became so small, I could no longer see it.


Immediately a poem started to form in my mind. I had never written a poem before.


I rushed to my computer and started to type my thoughts before they escaped me. The words fell into place and within five to ten minutes, I felt the poem was finished.


I was surprised, trying to figure out how this happened. Here is the poem:

 a gull or an angel


watching a gull

catch an up current of air

higher and higher

until it was so small 
I could not see it


maybe it was an
angel returning home

or a gull who was
seeking freedom


wonder if gull knows

Kris Kristofferson’s line

“freedoms just another

word for nothing left to lose”


It is not that outstanding, but I felt a new creative outlet forming. 

The next day . . .

See December 2 for Part 2

Clyde McCulley was born in Benton, Arkansas in 1941, the last of six kids born to a father, sixty years old, and a mother of forty. Together, they tried to eke out a living on a five-acre farm with no running water and a two-holer outhouse.
He was determined to go to college and pursue fine art, ultimately leading him to complete both an MFA and a doctorate in Higher Education Administration. 
After working as a professor of art at several private colleges, McCulley spent twenty years as the director of the School of Art at Munson Williams Proctor Arts Institute.
McCulley's memoirs, "The Boy on Shady Grove Road," is a collection of 100 stories from his early years in the conservative segregated South of the 1940s and 50s.
His book captures life on a little farm that was financially poor but rich in love, adventure, and imagination.
Along with humor that makes many readers laugh out loud are the tender, charming, and even poetic musings of a man who recalls childhood with uncommon vividness.
His characters and schemes in "The Boy on Shady Grove Road" bring back memories, to many readers, of Mark Twain's "Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn."

McCulley has written a series of books for Middle Graders, “Panther Creek Mountain” adventures of three kids growing up as poor kids in the Appalachian Mountains during the 1950s.

Recently he has written three books of Poems. McCulley lives with his wife, Susan, and their cat, Shadow, in Portland, Maine.

 Visit him at 



  1. Thank you for sharing with us your new adventure in writing. Poetry is something many of us would love to try. Maybe we can take step out and try our hand.

  2. I like your poem. Makes me want to try to write one, which is saying a lot for this lean prose writer. :-)