Eshleman, Clayton

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1935-06-01
Americans
English

Biographical notes:

Clayton Eshleman was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, in 1935. He earned a B.A. in philosophy and an M.A. in creative writing, both from Indiana University. He is the author of numerous collections of poetry and prose, including Under World Arrest (1994), Companion Spider (2002), An Alchemist with One Eye on the Fire (2006), and Reciprocal Distillations (2007), and has translated the work of César Vallejo and Aimé Césaire, among others. He founded and edited the literary magazines Caterpillar (1967-1973) and Sulfur (1981-2000).

From the guide to the Clayton Eshleman papers, circa 1990-2008, (Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library)

Twenty issues of Caterpillar appeared between 1967 and 1973. It was published in New York and later in Sheman Oaks, Ca. In 1971, the magazine was anthologized by Doubleday-Anchor as: 'A Caterpillar Anthology.' Caterpillar has been regarded as one of the seminal literary magazines of its period. Containing what Hayden Carruth calls, "the best cross section we have of the Black Mountain movement from 1967 to 1971." Caterpillar's editor, Clayton Eshleman, is an established poet and also editor of the literary magazine: Sulfur.

From the guide to the Caterpillar Archive, ca.1957-1987, (© 2012 Fales Library and Special Collections)

Contemporary American poet, translator, critic, teacher, and editor. Eshleman has published more than 10 volumes of poetry and has translated the work of Cesar Vallejo, Aime Cesaire, and Antonin Artaud, among others. Eshleman has also been the editor of two influential small press magazines, Caterpillar, which was published in Manhattan and Sherman Oaks, Calif. during the 1960s and early 1970s, and Sulfur, based in Southern California for most of the 1970s and 1980s and then in Eastern Michigan.

From the description of Papers, 1958-1993. (University of California, San Diego). WorldCat record id: 20533662

Clayton Eshleman was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, in 1935. He earned a B.A. in philosophy and an M.A. in creative writing, both from Indiana University. He is the author of numerous collections of poetry and prose, including An Alchemist with One Eye on the Fire (2006) and Reciprocal Distillations (2007), and has translated the work of César Vallejo and Aimé Césaire, among others. He founded and edited the literary magazines, Caterpillar (1967-1973) and Sulfur (1981-2000).

From the description of Clayton Eshleman papers, circa 1990-2008. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 702158667

Biography

Born June 1, 1935, in Indianapolis, Indiana, Clayton Eshleman is the only child of Gladys and Ira Eshleman. In 1953, Eshleman declared himself a music major at the University of Indiana but switched departments several times before receiving his BA in Philosophy in 1958. For three years he travelled in Mexico and Latin America. Returning to Indiana, he married Barbara Novak in the summer of 1961. Also in 1961, Eshleman's first book of poetry, Mexico and North, was printed privately in Japan. Eshleman spent three years in Japan, teaching English and studying Asian religion. He returned briefly to the United States and then moved, in 1965, to Lima, Peru. In Lima, in 1966, his only son, Matthew, was born. Eshleman returned to New York City in 1966 and soon separated from Barbara and Matthew. Two years of Reichian therapy followed.

In 1967, Eshleman published the first issue of CATERPILLAR, a journal of contemporary writing. He published twenty issues over a period of five years, ending the journal in 1973. While editing CATERPILLAR, Eshleman published his first major work, INDIANA (Black Sparrow Press, 1969) and his first major translation, Vallejo's POEMAS HUMANOS/HUMAN POEMS (Grove Press, 1968). Also during the CATERPILLAR years, Eshleman met his second wife Caryl Reiter and moved with her to Los Angeles in 1970.

The next years were most productive. Eshleman followed INDIANA by ALTARS (1971), COILS (1973), THE GULL WALL (1975), WHAT SHE MEANS (1978), HADES IN MANGANESE (1981), FRACTURE (1983), and, in 1986, THE NAME ENCANYONED RIVER: SELECTED POEMS, 1960 - 1985. All were published by Black Sparrow Press. Eshleman's creative design was now developed fully, imparting to his work quasi-Blakean completeness. In these and later works, written after he studied cave art at Lascaux, Eshleman recovered forms of the paleolithic imagination and practiced a poetics of what he called the lower body.

Eshleman's work as a translator continued throughout this period, resulting in his second major translation of Vallejo, SPAIN TAKE THIS CUP FROM ME (with Jose Rubia Barcia, 1974). Eshleman also produced translations of Antonin Artaud and Aime Cesaire: Artaud's TO HAVE DONE WITH THE JUDGEMENT OF GOD (1975), and ARTAUD THE MOMO (1976) (both with Norman Glass), and AIME CESAIRE: THE COLLECTED POETRY (1983, with Annette Smith). Eshleman's best-recognized achievement as translator was his 1978 collaboration with Jose Rubia Barcia on Vallejo's COMPLETE POSTHUMOUS POETRY, for which Eshleman received the 1979 National Book Award for Translations.

Eshleman has continued to write poetry and criticism, which appear in numerous magazines and anthologies, as well as his own books such as ANTIPHONAL SWING (1988), HOTEL CRO-MAGNON (1989), MISTRESS SPIRIT (1989), and NOVICES (1989). He also continues to translate the work of important poets such as Michel Deguy and Pablo Neruda.

Among Eshleman's most important contributions to contemporary American letters has been the editing of SULFUR, an influential journal of contemporary writing and art. Eshleman founded SULFUR in 1981 and edited 46 issues, ending the journal in the year 2000. The journal has disseminated works of canonized modernists like Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams, and Charles Olson, but it is best noted for transgressing boundaries separating isolated groups of American and international writers. Under Eshleman's direction, SULFUR has provided a forum for important arguments among new American writers, extending the field of new American writing to its most articulate, controversial outposts.

Clayton Eshleman has been the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship in Poetry, two National Endowment for The Arts Poetry Fellowships, and two National Endowment for The Humanities Fellowships. He has held teaching positions at the California Institute of Technology and at UCLA Extension. Presently he teaches at Eastern Michigan University.

From his interest in paleolithic and somatic experience, Eshleman has led several expeditions to the Dordogne region of France. There he conducts research on paleolithic cave art. He is also an aficionado of the region's cuisine.

A complete listing of Eshleman's publications, as well as autobiographical notes, can be found in the "Personal Papers" series of this collection.

Additional biographical information can be found at Eshleman's website hosted by the Electronic Poetry Center at State University of New York at Buffalo: http://wings.buffalo.edu/epc/eshleman/eshlbio.html

From the guide to the Clayton Eshleman Papers, 1958 - 1993, (University of California, San Diego. Geisel Library. Mandeville Special Collections Library.)

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http://n2t.net/ark:/99166/w6m6249x
Ark ID:
w6m6249x
SNAC ID:
21103765

Subjects:

  • Poetry--Translations into English
  • Poetry, Modern--20th century
  • American literature--20th century
  • American poetry--21st century
  • American literature--21st century
  • Poetics--Authorship
  • American poetry--20th century
  • Poets, American--Correspondence
  • Poets, American--20th century

Occupations:

  • Poets
  • Translator

Places:

  • Sherman Oaks (Calif.) (as recorded)