Meet Clarissa Simmens

Clarissa Simmens is an independent poet (since the age of four) and a Romani drabarni (Gypsy herbalist/adviser). She is also a music addict, writing her poetry simply, striving to compose musically, including talking blues, folktales, and memoirs of life.  She likes all music genres but especially classic rock, folk, Romani (Gypsy), and Cajun with an emphasis on guitar and violin music mainly in a Minor Key. She hopes to heal souls and maybe poetry can accomplish that.

What is your name and/or pen name?  
Clarissa Simmens

How long have you been writing?  
Since age four.

What is your favorite book/piece you have written?  
Poetry of Memory: Six Decades From the Space-Time Continuum.

What are you working on currently?  
Another poetry book, exclusively about love and loss.

Who is your favorite writer/author?  
There are so many great poets but I would have to say that Virginia Woolf remains my favorite novelist/essayist.

What is your favorite book/book series? 
Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse.

What made you decide to be a writer?  And who or what inspires you the most to be a writer?  
My aunt gave me her complete Sherlock Holmes collection by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and I fell in love with him at age 10.  I wrote my first mystery at that age but had written poetry from age 4 (“I am big, like a pig” was my best line).  I will always be a poet first, however.  I was a 60’s person and despite the media, it was not all about drug and sex and rock & roll.  My coming of age was about reading all the words never taught in school: the Beat Poets like Ginsberg and Kerouac, the alternative poets like E.E. Cummings and Bukowski and, most of all, the lesser-known women poets like Plath and Tsvetaeva.  Some of my favorite musicians such as Bob Dylan and Jim Morrison are/were incredible poets. 

What kind of music do you listen to when you write, if any? Favorite singer/band?  
It is impossible for me to listen to music while I am writing because I want to rock out by singing along.  So I mostly listen before I’m going to write.  I’m an old rocker, folk singer, jazz, blues and world music lover.  Currently, it seems that I cannot get enough Romani/Gypsy music (see Taraf de Haidouks) and Cajun music (see BeauSoleil).

What is your favorite genre to write and read?  
Poetry, although I tend to write them like song lyrics or talking blues. 

If you could meet any writer, living or dead, who would it be?   
T.S. Eliot.  I have a couple of  questions to ask him about his bigotry,  even though he is grudgingly one of my favorite poets.

What do you most want to accomplish as a writer?  
Like my grandmother, I am a Romani herbalist and healer.  She healed physical bodies.  I’m not that talented but hope to heal the soul, perhaps through poetry.

What was it like working with Rock & Roll Saved My Soul?  Would you recommend them to someone else?  
The editor, Kate Marie Robbins, is very accessible and easy to work with.  She is especially good with OCD poets like me!  I would definitely recommend R&RSMS to any contributor interested in her anthologies.

For more information about Clarissa Simmens, please visit: 

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