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Long Live the King in All Shook Up

Date: April 17, 2002
By: Jennifer Carter
Contact: Chris Curran
Phone: (513) 556-1823
Photo by Colleen Kelley
Archive: Profiles

Elvis Presley, an icon in American society during his life, is alive again -- at least through his music and movies.

An anthology of poetry compiled by a doctoral student in English, Will Clemens, looks at both Elvis' life and death, and the legacy he left behind. The book, All Shook Up: Collected Poems about Elvis, includes 47 previously published poems by 27 different poets, photographs by English professor Jon Hughes and a 10-page introduction written by Clemens. Will Clemens

"The main reason [for writing this book] was to sort of bring Elvis fans to poetry and bring poetry fans to Elvis and pop culture and contemporary culture," Clemens says. The volume has received "five-star" reviews from Midwest Book Review, Publisher's Weekly and an individual reviewer on, which also featured it on "Inside the Book."

Clemens came up with the idea for the anthology while taking a literary theory class taught by Stanley Corkin and Lisa Hogeland. He had read an essay about Elvis assigned for the class and was already familiar with some Elvis poems written by his former professor of creative writing at Indiana University, David Wojahn. "I thought that I would write an essay about these poems about Elvis," says Clemens.

He then began to look for other Elvis poems. "I loved finding new poems about Elvis, because every one is so different aesthetically, formally and narratively," Clemens says. With the help of Jim Cummins, curator of the Elliston Poetry Room, and of other poets/professors, he found about 20 poems. Clemens continued his search and was able to locate about 30 more.

Clemens also wanted photographs to complement the poems. Unable to secure photographs from Graceland, he went to Hughes, a professional photographer and faculty member. Hughes and suggested they take a trip to Memphis.

Clemens and Hughes were able to get permission to take photographs inside of Graceland, however they were not allowed to use the photographs in the book. The photographs found in the book were taken around Memphis and Cincinnati.

Clemens came to UC as an adjunct professor in 1997. He commuted from his home in Fairborn, Ohio, to teach Freshman Composition. While teaching, Clemens found he was interested in pursuing a PhD in creative writing and enrolled in the A&S program. Although Clemens' main focus now is his PhD, he still teaches some classes and workshops. He recently taught a poetry class at the College of Applied Science and is seeking a job in academe or in the private sector.

In addition to teaching, Clemens is a poet. He also works as a fiction editor for Antioch Review and a regular reviewer for Rain Taxi, a book review magazine. Clemens also was named a finalist for the 2001 Kent State University/Wick Poetry Chapbook Competition, as well.

Currently Clemens is working on two additional books. One is an anthology of poems about photography -- he has collected 207 so far. The other is a collection of his own poetry.

Whatever he does, he will continue to write fiction and poetry in whatever spare time he can find.

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