Some people state that they have known what they have wanted to do with their lives since a very early age; but, Clyde Hurlston was not one of those people. Growing up in a small, working-class suburb of New Orleans, Louisiana; Clyde speaks very fondly of his childhood. "I was very fortunate, in that I had and still have both of my parents in my life up until this very day. My father was a hard working man. He was a tugboat captain for many years, and my mother sacrificed a career to be a homemaker, raising my older brother and I to be the men we are today."
One thing Clyde often states unequivocally, is the emphasis both of his parents placed on education. "Education was paramount," he says. "Both of my parents demanded that my brother and I do well in school, otherwise there would be consequences," he says with a laugh. Throughout most of his primary schooling, Clyde displayed signs of being a remarkable child. He was often placed into gifted and talented courses, and was always a fixture on the Honor Roll every quarter. After transitioning into both middle and high schools, Clyde would be placed into Honors classes, where students would be placed into a grade, but would be using the textbooks and materials of the grade above them.
These opportunities are what led to Clyde's passions for reading and expanding his vocabulary, as he would try to understand the words he was reading on a daily basis at school. It was also through his school textbooks, that Clyde was first exposed to the world of poetry. But when asked how he had come to discover his ability to write poetry, it's a subject that the writer is often a little reticent to discuss. Because there is a bit of tragedy behind the story of what his friends have called his gift of writing.
"It's often hard for me to discuss this... but I really don't know where I would be without writing. Writing is what has helped me cope with the events of life. It has been my therapy. As I'm often fond of saying, writing has been my salvation. So I have been repaying that debt with ink. And that's where the title of my book comes from: it's an acknowledgement of the importance of writing in my life. Though at times it feels like both a gift and a curse, I fear I may not be here sitting and talking to you, if it weren't for writing. My mind takes me to some pretty dark places. But thankfully, I have great friends and family, and a blank page is always close by."
When pressed for details as to the tragedy he referred to, the aspiring writer takes a deep breath and begins to share the events with me. "It started way back in 1996," he says, staring off into space. "I was only 12 years old, and approaching my thirteenth birthday. That summer, just before my birthday, my little cousin Shawn had died. He was only eight years old, and cancer had stolen him from us. But he was the most remarkable person I had ever met. He was blind, but somehow he could always tell who was entering the room before they spoke. He had a little toy car collection, and he could pick up a car, and hold it up to his face and tell you the color, make, and model of that car. It was truly amazing. He was so full of joy, so full of life. But he was also so frail because of his condition. He was the little brother I never had."
"And after that summer concluded, I started my freshmen year of high school. I was still reeling from Shawn's death. I'm a very introverted person. I tend to bottle things up. So I doubt anyone truly knew the hole that his death left in my heart. Hell, that hole is still there to this very day. I have never gotten over that. But in my English class that year, we were discussing poetry in class. And our teacher was going to make us write a poem as our assignment that day. And for some reason, she handed us all a tiny piece of paper that was shaped like an angel. And she told us that she wanted us to write a poem about an angel. So something sparked in me that day, and I wrote my first poem about Shawn, because I felt then he was my angel. And I have been writing ever since that day. In some form or another. So that is the reason why my book is dedicated to Shawn. I feel like writing was a gift that he gave me. And I'm trying my hardest not to squander it. I hope I make him proud."
For anyone seeking to become a writer, whatever their chosen genre may be, releasing their first book is always a milestone in their life. So I hope that not only does Clyde make his late cousin proud, but maybe one day, himself as well. Because I know firsthand many people have told me how much they enjoy his writing, and I believe they will enjoy his first release, A Debt Paid In Ink.
Clyde currently resides in Marrero, Louisiana.
Clyde is a single man who lives with relatives and their two dogs in his childhood home. Working a full-time job, while writing in every spare moment possible.
It would seem all stories have a beginning...