P is for Poet: Student sees world through words

Bowling Green senior Clint Waters pulls inspiration from many places to write his poetry, which is often dark in tone.

Mary Anne Andrews

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, many might try their hand at poetry. But for one WKU student, poetry isn’t about wooing — it’s his way of life. 

Last fall, Bowling Green senior Clint Waters won a top 10 spot in the Jim Wayne Miller Celebration of Writing contest hosted by the English Department. 

His winning poem is a dark, modern piece called “On Learning the Bible Never Depicts Satan as Red, Horned or Clove-Footed.”

“The poem is about the preconceived notions people have about being gay and how what you think is rarely the case,” he said, who is homosexual and wrote the poem to his boyfriend.

Waters said a lot of his poetry is dark because of the psychological scars he has from his father and brother dying within a year of each other. Poetry is an outlet, he said.

“I do most of my writing when I can’t sleep. Something just hits me — maybe it’s the moonlight,” he said. “But, I worry about sounding whiny. So, I try to write about one issue at a time.”

Waters said WKU has helped him hone his skills as a poet.

“(Associate English Professor) Tom Hunley opened my eyes about how to find a poem,” he said. “Sometimes a line — or a word — just gets stuck in your head, in your interior monologue, and you build a poem.”

Hunley has taught poetry at WKU for nine years.

“Clint is an outstanding poetry student,” he said. “He is very outgoing and does a great job participating in class. I’d be surprised if he doesn’t publish his poetry.”

With a major in Creative Writing and minor in German, Waters’ dream is to translate works between German and English. But he said he will be satisfied with anything that involves writing.

Waters said most of his writing is based on a cause he sees in the world.

“One day I saw this bumper sticker that just flew all over me, so I wrote ‘America Bleeds God,’” he said. “I like to take a moment or an emotion and try to convey that: not a lot of beginning, middle, end — but a second in my life.”

Waters said his mom, Teresa Blair Reno, is a major encouragement to his work. 

“We talk every day,” Waters said. “And she comes to all of my poetry readings.”

Reno owns Teresa’s Restaurant in Bowling Green. She said she teases Waters all the time about how dark his poetry is.

“I just want him to be happy and doing what he wants to do,” Reno said. “I want him to be able to make a living and make a difference because I think that’s what we’re here to do — make a difference for someone.”

Reno said she especially likes a poem Waters wrote about his father.

Waters admits he has not been writing very much lately because of the Playstation 3 his mom gave him for Christmas. But he is preparing to study abroad later this semester and said he hopes Germany can be his “Walden Pond.”

“The biggest thing I’ve learned so far is that not everything you write will be amazing, so you shouldn’t get discouraged,” he said. “Young gay writers need to feel comfortable writing about heterosexuality or about things that have nothing to do with sex. People say write what you know, but I think everyone knows a lot.”

Waters said one of his favorite ways to find inspiration is to look to other writers for a model of how to begin.

“It’s not stealing,” he said. “It’s paying their art homage.”