Eliot, T. S. "Tradition and the Individual Talent." In The
Sacred Wood. London: Metheun, 1960, pp. 47-52. Spiegelman, Willard. "What to Make of an Augmented Thing." Kenyon Review 21.1 (winter 1999): 173-181. Wakefield, Richard. "A Clearly Discernible Constellation." Sewanee Review 109.1 (winter 2001): xxv-xxviii.
CLARK, TOM (1941- ) With a cavalcade of irreverent lyrics, Tom Clark brought a carnival atmosphere to the poetry scene in the radical 1960s. In addition his discriminating eye as an editor helped shape the tastes of his generation. Clark's offhand but poignant style and his sporadic output link him with predecessors, such as Frank o'hara, and contemporaries, such as Bill berkson.
Born in Chicago, Clark was trained at the University of Michigan and later at Cambridge University on a Fulbright scholarship. At just 22, he was named poetry editor of the Paris Review by his mentor Donald HALL. During his ensuing decade-long tenure as editor, he promoted the careers of several influential young new york school poets, such as John ashbery and Ted berri-gan. At the same time, Clark published his first volumes of poetry, debuting with Stones (1969), which was followed by Air (1970). one of his most memorable early efforts was an iconoclastic take-off on the imagist style of Wallace stevens, titled "Eleven Ways of Looking at a Shitbird" (1966).
Though his poems are capable of being caustic, they are also by turns surreal and sentimental (see surrealism). Surprising twists abound, as in the frequently anthologized "Going to School in France or America" (1969), wherein Clark declares money to be a means "to certain kinds of killing," only to shift from the critical to the comedic in providing the example of "dropping millions of pennies / on someone from a helicopter." A prolific and versatile author, Clark has produced dozens of chapbooks and larger volumes of poetry. Notable among them are three volumes of collected poems published by Black Sparrow Press, including When Things Get Tough on Easy Street (1978). Though irreverent as ever, Clark's later work places a stronger emphasis on history and narrative. often the poem is used as an occasion for a direct address to a celebrity or historical personality, such as Lenny Bruce or Henry Kissinger.
Clark has also enjoyed an accomplished career as a journalist and an investigative reporter. In The Great Naropa Poetry Wars, he examines a confrontation that occurred at the Naropa Institute between W. S. MERWIN and the Buddhist monk Chogyam Trungpa (see POETRY INSTITUTIONS). But in criticizing the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, and, by implication, its founding director Allen GINSBERG, Clark found himself ostracized by many in the poetry establishment.
Recent works of nonfiction by Clark include prose biographies of Robert CREELEY and Charles OLSON as well as poetic narratives on the life of John Keats and on the history of the fur trade in the Pacific Northwest. Clark has also dealt extensively with the subject of baseball in poetry and prose and in a parallel career as a painter.
Was this article helpful?