Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Tom Clark

image: Moritz Nähr [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Born in 1941 in Chicago, Tom Clark attended John Carroll University and the University of Michigan before going to England on a Fulbright scholarship. In addition to earning an MA at Cambridge University he spent some time hitchhiking across the country together with Allen Ginsberg.

Over the years Clark has published more than 30 collections of poetry. He is particularly famous for his sport-related poetry but also frequently addressed the state of contemporary America. As a poet mainly associated with the off-handed, witty poetry style of the New York School, Clark also established himself as a leading opponent of the language movement.

The poet Billy Collins wrote of Clark’s work: “Tom Clark, the lyric imp of American poetry, has delivered many decades’ worth of goofy, melancholic, cosmic, playful, and wiggy poems. I can never get enough of this wise guy leaning on the literary jukebox, this charmer who refuses to part with his lovesick teenage heart.”

In addition to his work as a poet Clark also published a number of novels and biographies of people such as Ted Berrigan, Robert Creeley, Ed Dorn, Jack Kerouac, and Charles Olson.

The recipient of awards from the Guggenheim and Rockefeller foundations, as well as the National Endowment for the Arts, Clark has been an instructor in poetics at the New College of California since 1988. He lives in Berkeley, California.

Links: (Tom Clark’s blog with poetry and essays) (his author page at Jacket Magazine)

My poem below took their inspiration from Clark’s “You” poem series. They also draw in parts on Ludwig Wittgenstein’s famous philosophical work Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus.

~ - ~

You (XVI)
1.    Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.
2.    Cups of tea on your sofa in the early morning sun.
3.    Your arms.
4.    And lips and perfect cock.
5.    Philosophy is not a theory but an activity.
6.    With the curtains drawn.
7.    Long walks along the canal, through the park, towards a slice of cake and coffee.
8.    What is thinkable is also possible.
9.    Books piled up.
10.    Thoughts kissing, begetting others.
11.    It will mean the unspeakable by clearly displaying the speakable.
12.    Not without hesitation.
13.    Yet eventually.
14.    Operations can vanish.
15.    Logic must take care of itself.

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