Philip St. Clair is the author of four books of poetry: Acid Creek (Bottom Dog, 1997), Little-Dog-Of-Iron (Ahsahta, 1985), At the Tent of Heaven (Ahsahta, 1984), and In the Thirty-Nine Steps (Shelley’s, 1980). His two chapbooks are Divided House (Finishing Line, 2005) and number 176 in Pudding Press’s Greatest Hits series (2003).
Geosi Gyasi: What does it take to be enlisted in the United States Air Force?
Philip St. Clair: That question I can’t answer — it’s been over fifty years since I joined up. Back then, the Air Force and the Navy were regarded as “more intelligent” that the others — they weren’t in the business of creating combat soldiers. I’m sure Air Force basic training, while difficult, was much easier than basic training in the Marine Corps. There was also a draft at that time, which drove many young men into the Navy and Air Force who wanted to avoid being drafted into the Army. (I probably would have joined up anyway.) Today I think the “no-draft” military is smaller, leaner, and more selective.
The rest of the interview will be available in my forthcoming book (2016) by Lamar University Press Books.