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|Number of Pages||:||107 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
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This collection snuck up on me, I'll admit. The first few poems were the sort of aggressively pastoral poetry that - because I am a shallow person, I guess - don't do much for me (except for Seamus Heaney's stuff). But Clampitt's poetry is dense in the best ways, allusive and complex, and a little slippery. It reminded me, ever so slightly, of Gerard Manley Hopkins' work: the language and themes coil around each other in the same ways. And like Hopkins, Clampitt is balancing between baroque and garish.Paris Review Interview.
Clampitt understands the myth of Manifest Destiny. But it is not only the complicated history of westward expansion that she confronts, Clampitt wants to use the United States' history to understand the complicated issues around mortality. She was 70 when this book was published, and throughout she gives allusion to people aging. What does it mean to have traveled anywhere when there will always be death to make it all end.
Clampitt's poetry invokes place in a very unique way. Many of these poems use the mythos of westward expansion as a vehicle for conveying a more personal history, and the complicated emotions that define our lives. "My Cousin Muriel" opens with the "enthrallments and futilities" of Manhattan, then recalling the "farmhouse childhood" she shared with her cousin, "kerosene-lit and tatting-and-mahogany genteel." Indeed, she identifies the East Coast with "vertiginous delusions of autonomy", and the West Coast with similar disappointment: in California, where her cousin moved in pursuit of a better life, "little is left, these days, these times, to say/ when the unspeakable stirs like a stone." "The Prairie" is one of my favorite poems- Clampitt connects her grandfather's migration across the Great Plains, and eventually to California, with episodes from the life of Anton Chekhov. In the 19th century the steppes of central Russia were, like the American West at the same time, perceived as a new, largely 'empty' territory needing to be settled, a place of opportunity that could also be disconcerting in its loneliness. Clampitt develops this parallel quite masterfully throughout the poem. Place becomes a source of inspiration but also a source of unease, as she seeks connections with her family's history:"To be landless, half a nomad, nowhere whollyat home, is to discover, now, an epic themein going back. The rootless urge that tookmy father's father to Dakota, to California,impels me there. A settled continent: whatdoes it mean?"
Autographed copy by the poet
811.54 C586w 1990