How Ghosts Of Legendary Miami Family Fire Poet's Imagination
"This is a work of fiction," cautions the introduction to poet C.M. Clark's latest book, "Charles Deering Forecasts the Weather & Other Poems."
Whatever would Charles Deering say?
If there's one person who can at least guess, it's Clark. She was the very first Literary Artist-in-Residence for the Deering Estate, which stands alongside the Biltmore Hotel and Vizcaya as one of Miami-Dade's historical gems. The estate was built in 1916 by Deering, a wealthy industrialist, and once housed one of the most extensive art collections in our region.
A few paranormal experts claim the place is haunted.
But for Clark, the stately mansion and the personalities that inhabited it in the early 20th Century offered a literary panorama that fired her poet's imagination.
"I approach poetry really more as a novelist would," she said. " I like to formulate plots. So when the question arises it's like: 'Yes, these are Deerings, but these are my fictional Deerings'."
"Charles Deering Forecasts The Weather . . ." is a verse narrative that reconstructs the life of Deering and his family. While some of the plot lines and embellishments are imagined, the poems are based on historical fact.
Charles was the older half-brother of James Deering, the founder of Vizcaya.
"James was the more flamboyant type, he loved the glitz and the glam and I think Vizcaya shows that," Clark said. " Charles was a little more serious, more private. And so the estate that he created in the southern part of the county reflects that passion, almost obsession, for privacy."
The waves daze me
and all look alike, blending swells and meantooth whitecaps
all one. The house, however, holds
the human, however derivative, diminutive. This
I can tolerate.
-- Excerpt from “Charles Deering Forecasts the Weather & Other Poems”
C.M. Clark will be reading from the book at the Miami Book Fair International this coming Saturday, Nov. 17.