The Open Mic Project: M.H. Clay
The Open Mic Project The Open Mic Project: M.H. Clay
M.H. Clay at Mad Swirl. Photo courtesy Tim Thomaston. Born outside Royston, England, Cambridgeshire in 1954, M.H. Clay has traveled the world, made music, poetry, plays, and worked in corporate America, but his primary badge of self-identification is his art. Having made his home and made a living in many places throughout the southwestern United States, Europe, and Asia, Clay credits his experiences during these years of peripateticism with helping to shape his world view, and by extension his writing and literary personality. Despite a lifelong personal connection to the arts and writing, it is only since 1997, when he picked up his pen for the first time following a 17 year creative hiatus, that he has developed into the highly creative and prodigiously active member of the local literary scene that he is today. Now a member of the Lakewood Poetry Consortium, he is the author of hundreds of poems, ten short stories, and four one-act plays, with further literary endeavors in the works at all times.

M.H.’s appearances and contributions to the local (and international) scene have been numerous and varied. In 2008, M.H. appeared as a featured poet in the Death List Five - sponsored event known as Fusion, a free-form literary and artistic endeavor done in collaboration with Chris Zimmerly and local poetry / improvisational jazz group Swirve. Later that same year, he appeared as one of several featured readers at the Death List Five “Reading the Beats” event, adding his to the chorus of voices celebrating the poetic and literary contributions of the influential Beat Poets of the 1950s. More recently, he has been a twice-featured poet at the Blackwater International Poetry Festival in Fermoy, Ireland, as well as a panelist at Poetry International Rotterdam 2015. His appearances have included readings for Wordspace Dallas, the Pandora’s Box Poetry Showcase, and Paperbacks Plus (now Lucky Dog Books). He has taken part in various open mics around the Dallas area since 2003, and, since 2009, has served as poetry editor of the Mad Swirl zine and website. He can be found on the first Wednesday of every month at the Absinthe Lounge as co-host, with Johnny Olson, of the Mad Swirl open mic.

M.H. plays harmonica and sings with Pecan Tree, a local band specializing in what he describes as “free form poetry with music,” or “Bluesy Funkified Folk Jazz with Poetry Infused Hootennany.”

“Poet, playwright, raconteur, musician, artist, gadabout hi-tech professional and erstwhile friend and family man.”

Selected works:
“America,” published in Death List Five issue five, Spring 2006
Waking Up, one-act play performed in One Day Only productions by Rover Dramawerks, February 2007
Perhaps This Rain and Other Precipitations, collected poems, self published, December 2007
“Interview,” published in Mad Swirl issue 6, with limited edition CD, July 2008
“Noire” means “Black” in French, one-act play performed in One Day Only productions by Rover Dramawerks, August 2008
“Pentecostal Pastel” and “Hey, Walt” produced by 10K Poets
“Waxing Gibbous,” published in The Blue Max Review, 2013
“Eulogy,” published in The Day the Mirror Called, 2014
“The Pioneers,” published in The Blue Max Review, 2014
“Zachary,” published in Fathers and What Must Be Said, 2014
Sonoffred, collected poems, published by Rebel Poetry, April 2015