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By Katie Marshall
Clementine von Radics is one of those poets who, if you haven’t heard her name, you’ve seen her work. As the founder of Where Are You Press, she focuses on publishing marginalized voices, and in the process, has emerged as a voice all of her own.
Her latest book, “Mouthful of Forevers” is a #1 Bestseller on Amazon. We were able to track her down for a few questions about life, writing, her coffee shop order and what she’d tell her 16-year-old self:
Tell us about yourself.
My name is Eriel Clementine von Radics. I’m 23 years old. I grew up in Southern Oregon by way of the San Francisco Bay Area and northern Michigan. I live in Portland, Oregon. I am a poet and the founder and CEO of Where Are You Press.
You’re at a coffee shop on a rainy Sunday. What do you order?
Coffee with cream and cinnamon.
If you could go back and whisper in the ear of your 16-year-old self, what is one thing you would tell them?
“You are original and important; have faith in yourself. Believe in your own abilities but don’t think you know everything. You don’t—you’re still a kid. Keep your head down. Work hard. Learn as much as you can. Be nice to people.”
What are some of your favorite things to listen to?
An orchestra tuning up, excited dogs, rain, onions cooking in butter, basement shows, talk radio, and my boyfriend’s breath in sleep.
If you could be free of one thought or fear, what would it be?
That a single failure means the end of everything.
You are such a well-loved writer. I’ve seen people on Tumblr sharing photos of your words tattooed on their bodies. My best friend read your poem, “Mouthful of Forevers,” at her friends’ wedding. What does it feel like to know that your words mean that much to people?
It’s very humbling. It makes me want to be better. I mean, I fell into this career. I never planned to become a writer, and I’m grateful for the encouragement my readers have given me as I figure out what I’m doing and what I want this career to look like.
You can go out for drinks with five people, dead or alive. Whom do you invite, and why?
Anaïs Nin, Isadora Duncan, Billie Holiday, Sylvia Plath, and Zora Neale Hurston.
What is the difference between writing a poem and performing it as spoken word?
They are very different skills, and it takes time and practice to learn each. Only a handful of people are truly good at both, and I would not include myself on that list yet. Someday. Soon, hopefully.
What makes you come alive?
Anything that cries out.
Image: Clementine von Radics